Economic Assessment for B.C. Salmon Aquaculture



Yajie Liu (PhD project)
Ussif Rashid Sumaila (Supervisor)


Research Project Description



Although salmon aquaculture provides many socio-economic benefits to the producers and society as a whole, it is one of the most controversial aquaculture practices because it potentially creates serious environmental impacts, such as disease spreading, consumption of fish meal and fish oil, interbreeding, and pollution. Among them, disease transfer, particularly of sea lice associated with salmon aquaculture, has been a topic of hot debate because it not only causes economic losses to aquaculture producers, but may also pose a significant threat to wild fisheries because most diseases. are contagious. While these environmental impacts are widely acknowledged, economic consequences of these impacts are poorly documented and assessed. Salmon aquaculture is a commercial industry, and many factors (internal and external) can affect the productivity and profitability of aquaculture operations. Therefore, a broad economic examination of salmon aquaculture operation is needed in order to make salmon aquaculture a socially acceptable, economically profitable and environmentally friendly sector.

Research Objectives

The general objective of this research is to examine the profitability of salmon aquaculture operations by highlighting the economic impacts of disease problems on aquaculture producers and wild salmon fisheries. Salmon aquaculture in British Columbia (BC) will be used as a case study, and sea lice will be used as a representative disease. The specific objectives are:

  • To examine the profitability of salmon aquaculture operation under “normal” conditions;
  • To estimate the economic costs of disease to salmon farmers;
  • To examine if disease has economic impacts on wild salmon fisheries; if it does, then examine what the economic impacts will be;
  • To explore the profitability of salmon aquaculture operation when economic impacts of disease are internalized.

Analytical Framework

This proposed research uses empirical applications of production economics and bio-economic theories. Basic and extended financial analyses will be developed and serve as basic frameworks for estimating the profitability of salmon aquaculture operation, and bioeconomic models will be developed and applied to capture the costs of disease problems. This proposed research is divided into six chapters, including: 1) introduction; 2) profitability of salmon aquaculture based on basic financial analysis; 3) estimating the costs of disease to aquaculture producers; 4) estimating the costs of disease to wild salmon fisheries; 5) extended profitability of salmon aquaculture when the costs of disease are integrated into aquaculture production decision-making; and 6) policy implications and concluding remarks.

Policy Implications

Salmon aquaculture in BC is a new science, and the research and development related to problems brought about by salmon aquaculture are still in the early stage. Some policies or regulations in BC are made based on the experiences or science developed in other jurisdictions. It is expected that the results generated from this study should provide some insights to policy makers and aquaculture producers in the investment of disease control and management. Meanwhile, this study should also give a new vision of salmon aquaculture to the general public from an economic perspective.

Project Duration

Four years (expected to be done by 2006 or early 2007).

Funding Sources: