Sector Profile

As a regional gateway to Northern Vancouver Island, Campbell River is ideally situated to support a thriving aquaculture industry. The city has attracted some of the largest global companies and serves as a premier location for corporate headquarters in the industry.

Campbell River is home to the head offices of three major salmon farming companies, a unique aquatic research facility, one of Canada’s largest commercial diver training schools and numerous aquaculture service and supply companies. 

With opportunities along the supply chain, aquaculture development continues to play an important role in the diversification and strengthening of the local and regional economy. 

Aquaculture has been identified as one of the priority growth industries in the BC Provincial Jobs Plan.

Snapshot of Aquaculture in British Columbia


In British Columbia (BC), the top three aquaculture commodities, in terms of production volume and dollar, are salmon, oysters, and clams1. Cultured Atlantic salmon is BC’s top agricultural export2.


In 2015, cultured seafood production reached 96,000 tonnes, an increase of 31% from the previous year3

The top five markets for seafood product exports include the United States (61%), China (18%), Japan (8%), Hong Kong (2%), and Vietnam (1%)4. Continued strength in the US economy is anticipated to benefit aquaculture employment5.


BC was the fourth largest producer of cultured Atlantic salmon in the world in 20146 . Approximately 70% of Canada’s cultured salmon production, in both tonnes and dollars, is attributed to BC. In turn, approximately 40% of the annual GDP impacts generated by salmon farming in BC are attributed to activities that occur on northern Vancouver Island6 , where Campbell River is located.


The shellsh industry is a well-established economic driver in the Campbell River area. BC cultured clams, scallops, and oysters represent a high percentage of Canada’s overall production. With continued growth of the industry expected, there are culturing and processing expansion opportunities within this area.

Leading Employers

Three of the world’s leading aquaculture companies have their North American head offices located in Campbell River – Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, and Marine Harvest – and are major employers in the community.

Cermaq Canada (Cermaq) has salmon farms on the west and east coasts of Vancouver Island. With 27 farms, three hatcheries, one land-based broodstock site and two processing plants Cermaq employs more than 250 people in the coastal communities of Vancouver Island8

Grieg Seafood BC (Grieg) –
is a salmon farming business with BC operations on the east and west coast of Vancouver Island as well as along the Sunshine Coast. The company has 105 employees with nearly half living in Campbell River. Grieg holds 22 farm licences, operates a hatchery, and uses services from more than 100 BC suppliers and contract service companies9

Marine Harvest Canada (Marine Harvest) – operates salmon farms on the coast of BC and Vancouver Island. The company directly employs more than 500 people in BC, 200 are from the Campbell River area. Marine Harvest sources supplies and services from 255 companies based in Campbell River, spending $32.5M among these vendors. Marine Harvest actively operates 22 of the 49 licences they hold and operates a processing plant in Port Hardy.

Opportunities to Grow the Supply Chain

The aquaculture sector contracts a wide range of support services. Campbell River is home to a variety of businesses along the supply chain, from technological support for resources management to preparation of value-added products. 

Professionals and technical businesses located in Campbell River enjoy year-round contract opportunities. Some of the existing businesses that demonstrate the wide range of opportunities in the sector include: 


Land and sea-based freight and transportation service operators, such as Az-Tec Freight, use specialty tankers and trailers for customized transporting of aquaculture products. Smaller companies, such as Discover Launch Water Taxi and Way West Water Taxi offer charter marine transport services.


AKVA Group and Steinsvik are leading technology companies offering feeding and camera systems design to the aquaculture industry worldwide, and have located their North American head offices in Campbell River. New companies, like Poseidon Ocean Systems, provide technical solutions, project management and product development.


Companies such as Ecofish Research and Mainstream Biological Consulting offer a comprehensive range of services including biological and environmental assessment, monitoring, mitigation, and offsetting. Commercial diving companies, such as Allpen Diving & Flotation, provide the industry with equipment installation and maintenance services, video inspection and mortality removal.


Equipment and supplies used all over Vancouver Island are produced in Campbell River with companies such as Pacific Marine Construction building custom docks, floats, feed storage buildings and aquaculture barges. Companies like Campbell River Netloft provide netting supplies and repair services for finfish and shellfish production.


The region has large-scale companies specializing in the processing of farmed fresh salmon, such as Browns Bay Packaging Company, as well as smaller operations that offer custom and wholesale finfish and shellfish smoking, such as Flurer Smokey.  

Skilled and Educated Work Force

Aquaculture is a significant employer in Campbell River and within the Strathcona Regional District. With approximately 385 people employed in the community, almost one quarter of aquaculture employment in BC can be attributed to Campbell River. Direct employment in the aquaculture industry in Campbell River represents 2.3% of the total employed population in the community – more than 30 times the share aquaculture employment has in BC. In addition, the local aquaculture industry supports employment throughout the supply chain in processing, transportation, business services, and scientific and technical services.

Local Industry Support

Campbell River has strong sector support with a network of services to assist the growing aquaculture industry. In addition to promoting opportunities for aquaculture in the area, these organizations provide valuable research resources.

The BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences has a team of research scientists and technical staff and is the only aquatic research facility of its kind in the province. The organization located in Campbell River to serve both the wild and cultured marine species sectors. 

The Aboriginal Aquaculture Association, headquartered in Campbell River assists, supports and facilitates meaningful participation of First Nations in sustainable aquaculture development. 

The BC Salmon Farmers Association, with a head office in Campbell River, acts as a liaison between industry and government and as a forum for communication and cooperation within the salmon farming sector. 

The BC Shellfish Grower’s Association, located in nearby Comox Valley aims to advance the sustainable growth and prosperity of the BC shellfish industry in a global economy by providing leadership, communication and advocacy to                 members, government, the public and other stakeholders. 


Vancouver Island University (VIU) is located in Nanaimo and provides academic research support for the aquaculture industry with the Centre for Shellfish Research, the International Centre for Sturgeon Studies and the Deep Bay Marine Field Station.



1 Statistics Canada - Aquaculture, production and value – CANSIM Table 003-0001 available at:  Stats Canada
2 Ministry of Agriculture – Agriculture, Seafood, and Agrifood Snapshots 2015:  BC Government
3 Ministry of Agriculture – Seafood Snapshot 2015 available at:  BC Government
4 Ibid
5 BC Agrifood and Seafood Export Highlights at:  BC Government
6 Ministry of Agriculture – Seafood Snapshot 2015 available at:  BC Government
7 BC Salmon Farmers Association Economic Impact Study 2015 at:  BC Salmon Farmers
8 Information gathered from Cermaq website at:  Cermaq
9 Information gathered from Marilyn Hutchinson - Director HR, Sustainability & Growth at Grieg Seafood.
10 Information gathered from Ian Roberts - Communications and Media at Marine Harvest.

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