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

partial graphic used in "Get Serious" campaign by Surrey business groups.
‘Get Serious’ message about COVID pushed by Surrey business groups fearing ‘economic shutdown’

‘Different social media messages will be sent out daily with significant messaging…’

Stock photo
Pair’s lawsuit dismissed against Fraser Valley soccer association and churches

Judge in Abbotsford calls claims against 14 defendants ‘an abuse of the court’s process’

Pixabay image
OUR VIEW: Grow up and join the fight against COVID-19 in Surrey

All of us in Surrey need to ask ourselves if we are on the right side of the fight against COVID-19, or are we not

Surrey RCMP Corporal Joanie Sidhu. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Surrey RCMP stats say violent crime has dropped by seven per cent

That’s for the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Lawrence Nadessan, 44, was last seen on Oct. 24 at 11:30 p.m. in Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge man missing since Saturday is extremely out of character, family says

Cameras saw him leaving home, not dressed for the weather

A group of Abbotsford secondary principals’s and vice-principals are at a retreat in Whistler this weekend. (Whistler.com photo)
Abbotsford principals attend retreat in Whistler despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Reported group of 20 did follow COVID-19 protocols during Whistler Pro-D event, says school district

Most Read