Geoduck harvesting vessels on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (Photo/Geoduck from Canada)

B.C.’s wild seafood exports snagged in Beijing’s recent COVID-19 panic

Chinese salmon false alarm spills over to other Canadian seafood products

A false alarm linking salmon and COVID-19 in China is creating a serious ripple effect for B.C.’s seafood industry.

On Sunday, state-run-newspapers in China reported an unconfirmed hypothesis that a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing’s Xinfadi market could be traced to a cutting board used for imported salmon.

Although China’s Centre for Disease Control (CCDC) and Prevention exonerated imported salmon Tuesday, saying no traces of COVID-19 were found on the packaged fish before it arrived in Beijing, a series of far-reaching implications had already been set in motion.

First, China halted all of its European salmon imports. Then certain wild seafood exporters from B.C. were asked to stop exporting their product to China as well.

“There’s serious implications for all kinds of seafood being exported to China,” said Christina Burridge, executive director for B.C. Seafood Alliance.

Burridge said wild seafood like sea cucumbers, spot prawns, geoducks, and dungeness crabs are products with significant markets in Asia.

“These products don’t have a large domestic market, with 95 per cent of it exported to markets in China and other Asian countries,” said Burridge.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada statistics, Canada’s fish and seafood exports to China were valued at $1.17 billion in 2019. B.C. was one of the top seafood exporting provinces, with exports valued at $306 million.

Wild seafood products such as crab and geoduck accounted for $324 million and $94 million in Canadian exports to China, compared to salmon exports valued at $60 million. Canada’s major salmon market is the U.S.

Burridge also said she has been hearing reports that Chinese authorities are demanding all seafood be cooked before export. That would be a challenge since most Canadian seafood is sought live.

The World Health Organization stated COVID-19 is not transmitted through fish and the origins of the new cluster in Beijing is still uncertain. However China halted all salmon imports from Europe after genetic traces of the virus found in Beijing suggested it could have come from Europe. Supermarkets in Beijing also removed salmon from their shelves.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) stated Canadian seafood continues to be among the “healthiest foods” consumers can choose. Timothy Kennedy, President and CEO of CAIA , said that there have been no restrictions on Canadian farmed salmon imports so far and that the supply still continues. But he added China has increased its product testings and that is slowing down the process of getting product into the country.

“China has high trust in CAIA.” said Kennedy, who added that there was no reason to worry since none of the aquaculture farms in Canada reported any cases.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s $50 million geoduck industry hit after China’s market slumps

CoronavirusFisheries and Oceans Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JULY 11: B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance

Suspect in North Delta home invasion facing attempt murder charge

Blaine Robert Jackson, 37, of no fixed address, faces six charges in relation to this incident

‘Did anything good come out of my son’s overdose death?’ – South Surrey mom

Maggie Plett says action still needed on recovery homes

Rooftop hatchlings ‘a nice addition’ to White Rock RCMP operations

Pair of seagull chicks hatched in ‘fenced playground’ on July 2

PHOTOS: Surrey rally supports Mona Wang, calls for wellness check reform

Security camera footage shows Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read