April 16, 2021

Moving Canada’s blue economy out of the shallows

Canada needs to get its Aquaculture Act together if it wants to tap its ocean potential, industry says

B.C.’s commercial and sport fisheries are in trouble, thanks to declining wild salmon stocks | Rob Kruyt

Everyone by now knows what is meant by the “green economy.”

But what about that “blue economy” that the World Bank and the Justin Trudeau government have been talking about lately?

The World Bank defines the blue economy as “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth.”

The global ocean economy is worth an estimated US$1.5 trillion now and is expected to grow to US$3 trillion by 2030, according to Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia professor at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

Given that Canada’s coastline borders on three oceans and it is the country with the longest marine coastline, Canada’s oceans are an underused resource with significant economic potential in seafood production, tourism and renewable offshore wind and tidal energy generation.

The Trudeau government wants to develop a blue economy strategy, but isn’t clear on what that strategy should include, which is why it is seeking input from Canadians through its blue economy engagement process.

“Combined, our ocean industries generate over $30 billion a year in GDP,” federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan said last week at a virtual forum on the blue economy hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT). “Yet our blue economy lags behind other countries like Norway, the U.S., the UK and Australia. To me that screams potential.”

But if Canada’s blue economy is to include aquaculture, it is off to a rocky start in B.C. Jordan is shutting down a quarter of the province’s salmon farms with her order to have 19 open-net sites in the Discovery Islands off the water by 2022.

A good start for a blue economy strategy would be a federal aquaculture act, said forum panellist Jennifer Woodland, CEO of Nuu-chah-nutlh Seafood and chairwoman of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood is a First Nations company involved in commercial fishing, salmon farming, seafood canning and, more recently, seaweed cultivation.

“Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in world,” Woodland said, “and we’re watching every other jurisdiction take their place globally as aquaculture leaders. Canada should be a leader in sustainable aquaculture development.”

For B.C., the biggest blue economy opportunities are in sport fishing, whale watching, cruise ships, kayaking, aquaculture and commercial fishing.

But both its saltwater sport fishing and commercial salmon fisheries are in trouble, due to declining wild stocks, and salmon farming is in trouble due to activism and bad optics.

B.C.’s commercial sockeye fishery has been in decline since the mid-1990s. Compared with Alaska, Russia and Japan, B.C.’s commercial salmon fishery has all but vanished.

“The salmon fishery and fishermen and processors are close to collapsing,” said Joy Thorkelson, former president of the UFAWU-Unifor fisherman’s union in B.C. In 2019, the commercial catch for salmon in B.C. was the lowest in 70 years, she said.

Declining chinook stocks, meanwhile, have resulted in so many restrictions and closures that American tourists who pay big bucks to fish in B.C. may eventually stop coming.

Some efforts are being made to address the wild salmon decline. Under the joint federal-B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, $142 million is being invested over five years in initiatives like salmon habitat restoration.

Mike Meneer, president of Pacific Salmon Foundation, said past salmon habitat restoration and enhancement efforts have had some success in bolstering coho stocks.

While rebuilding Pacific salmon stocks would be an important part of a blue economy plan, if warming ocean temperatures from climate change are the principal cause of the declines, habitat restoration may not be enough to reverse it.

Unlike Atlantic cod, Pacific salmon are more abundant now than they ever have been. But that abundance is concentrated in cold northern regions, like Alaska and Russia. Northern range abundance may also be partly attributed to industrial-scale hatcheries in Alaska, Japan and Russia, which pump more than one billion juvenile salmon into the Pacific Ocean each year.

One question Jordan may need to wrestle with as part of her blue economy discussion is whether Canada should follow Alaska’s lead and move from salmon farming to salmon ranching by increasing Fraser River sockeye stocks with industrial-level hatchery production.

And if the federal government is determined to shut down coastal open-net salmon farms in B.C., subsidizing a transition to open ocean fish farms may be less risky than betting on land-based closed containment recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

Jordan’s own Fisheries and Oceans advisers have determined RAS to be expensive and not economically viability.

“While closed containment appears to solve many of the current problems that represent impediments to net-pen farming in coastal waters, nearly 100% of the startups using this technique have gone bankrupt,” a 2018 Fisheries and Oceans memo to the fisheries minister noted.

Open-ocean farming may prove a viable alternative.

SalMar, a Norwegian salmon farming company, has developed the first offshore fish farm, away from the coast, which reduces the chance of wild and farmed fish interacting.

The company has now produced two harvests of Atlantic salmon and reports low sea-lice levels and low mortalities.

As for other forms of aquaculture, one relatively new crop for B.C. is seaweed and kelp. Ocean Regenerative Aquaculture is planning to cultivate seaweed for products such as biostimulants, which can be used in agriculture to improve crop growth. •


Canada, U.S. likely to apply brakes to post-pandemic inflation

While Canada seems unable to put the COVID-19 health crisis behind it, around the world economies are rebounding and the overall global outlook has improved.

The April 2021 forecast from the International Monetary Fund tells the story. After shrinking by 3.3% in 2020, the world economy is projected to expand by 6% this year, followed by a 4.4% advance in 2022. The recovery in the United States will outpace that in Canada, but even Canada should return to a solid growth track in 2021-22.

As economies gradually reopen, some forecasters and financial market participants are starting to focus on the spectre of rising inflation. A Google search reveals an explosion of media reports in the past few months on the topic of inflation.

Inflation, as measured by the all-items Consumer Price Index in Canada and similar composite indicators in other developed countries, has been quiescent for an extended period. Indeed, in the decade to 2020, central banks in the U.S., Japan and the eurozone mostly undershot their official inflation targets, even when unemployment rates were hovering near record lows and economies appeared to be running at full tilt. This was partly because of dramatic increases in global labour supply and worldwide production capacity as China and other emerging economies were integrated into international supply chains. It also reflected the deflationary effects of technological change.

In this environment, a belief took hold that inflation was yesterday’s problem. Then came the COVID shock, which triggered a further drop in inflation on the back of collapsing oil prices and declines in spending amid unprecedented social and travel restrictions.

But market sentiment began to shift in late 2020. After hitting record lows last summer, government bond yields began to march higher. By February 2021, the yields on 10-year U.S. and Canadian government bonds had roughly tripled from August 2020. To be sure, borrowing costs for credit-worthy public and private sector entities are still low in absolute terms, and forward-looking market measures do not point an inflationary spiral. But expectations have changed.

The coming months will bring higher headline inflation, because of the sudden (but temporary) plunge in energy prices and the COVID-induced economic slump last spring. Plus, with the global economy strengthening, prices for energy, industrial raw materials and foodstuffs have been climbing. There is considerable “pent-up” demand for spending among consumers who have curtailed travel and scaled back purchases of services over the last year.

With household savings in North America sitting at record-high levels, consumers collectively are well positioned to splurge once public health restrictions are relaxed. At the same time, the pandemic has disrupted and complicated trade flows and some supply chains. Supply chain hiccups, mounting protectionism and thicker national borders may translate into higher costs for some consumer products and intermediate inputs.

Then there is the impact of macroeconomic policy. National governments in the U.S. and Canada are committed to further expand significant deficit-financed fiscal stimulus, even though “output gaps” in both countries are expected to close by the end of the year and public sector balance sheets are groaning under the weight of massive new debts taken on during the pandemic. The extra government stimulus dollars will be injected into the economy just as consumers are opening their wallets and spending in interest-sensitive sectors like housing remains elevated. Finally, central banks, including the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken extraordinary action to support economic growth and ensure the financial system has oodles of liquidity.

Add it all up, and it is not hard to understand why worries about the prospect of escalating inflation have grown. We don’t (yet) share these concerns, although we do anticipate somewhat higher inflation over the next one to two years as economic activity picks up.

It would not be surprising to see measures of annualized inflation reach 3% in the U.S., and perhaps 2.5% in Canada, later this year. But we are not in the camp that anticipates an unravelling of the inflation control frameworks adopted by the central banks in Canada and the U.S., both of which operate with inflation targets in the vicinity of 2%. We believe independent central banks will boost interest rates and take steps to remove excess liquidity from the financial system when overall economic conditions warrant such action. In Canada, more than 25 years of successful management of inflation by the central bank give us confidence that the risk of runway inflation is very small. •

Jock Finlayson is the Business Council of British Columbia’s senior policy adviser; Ken Peacock is the council’s senior vice-president and chief economist.



Popular spot for casual Mexican eats in Vancouver preps fourth location in an ex-Starbucks

Let’s taco-bout it!

Vancouver’s Sal y Limon is expanded in the city and are launching a fourth location | Sal y Limon/Facebook

Vancouver’s Sal y Limon is expanding, so let’s taco-bout it!

Known for its casual Mexican eats like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, Sal y Limon started out in Vancouver at Kingsway and Fraser, eventually expanding to add a South Surrey restaurant and an outpost at YVR Airport. Now temporary signage has gone up at what will be the local business’ fourth Metro Vancouver location, and it’s back to the east side with a move into a former Starbucks location on The Drive.

Sal y Limon is taking over at 1752 Commercial Drive, which is a terrific corner spot at East 2nd Avenue in a longstanding building (check it out back in 1978 when the space was a stationery store, courtesy the Vancouver Archives). A timeline for opening has not been announced yet.

There are several vacant Starbucks locations across the region after the company shuttered hundreds of stores coast to coast. Some are destined to - or already have - become new locations of Artigiano, the Vancouver coffeehouse chain. 

Currently, only the Vancouver and Surrey locations of Sal y Limon are up and running and offering take-out. 

On the menu at Sal y Limon: Tons of tacos, including popular favourites like battered and fried fish or shrimp, carnitas, and al pastor, as well as several meat-free options. The same fillings can be loaded into burritos or built into huaraches, which are deep-fried corn tortillas topped with beans, cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, chunky salsa, sour cream, and queso fresco. Sal y Limon also offers quesadillas, tortas (sandwiches on buns), and taco kits for building meals at home.


One of Vancouver’s most iconic afternoon tea services is now available for takeout

A new way to enjoy the decades-old tradition from one of Vancouver’s most storied hotels

Afternoon Tea To-Go from Notch8 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is available now through the summer | Courtesy Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

For over eight decades, sitting down to an elegant Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Vancouver has been a cherished tradition, and now Fairmont has found a way to pack up the meal perfectly for you to enjoy at home or at the park.

Offered through the hotel's in-house restaurant, Notch8, the new Afternoon Tea To-Go is now available on the weekend.

With the restaurant closed to indoor dining for the time being, and with hotel guests being chiefly in rooms on the property as part of their mandated post-travel quarantine, Notch8 knew making one of its signature meals available for takeout would be the ideal thing to do for the warmer months in Vancouver. However, transporting a tea service, with its iconic tiered serving dish, is no simple feat.

The hotel staff found a source from - where else? - England to make a portable cardboard tiered tea tower, complete with a snug cardboard protector for the outside. Fresh scones are packed in their own box, which you can carry out in a paper bag with your tea (bottled iced tea or hot tea sachets, both featuring the hotel chain’s Lot35). Pro-tip, if you’re driving in for the pick-up: Belt your tier in with a seatbelt to secure the goods and you’re good to go; I got to take the takeout Afternoon Tea for a literal test drive, and every single item on the tiers easily survived the trek back out to the ‘burbs.

On the menu: A mix of modern and traditional tea treats

And just what are those items? This is a classic take on Afternoon Tea from the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver - a practice that celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2019. While Notch8 has gotten wildly creative with what’s on the menu for tea, from fairy tale or cinematic inspired-spreads, this spring and summer Afternoon Tea To-Go includes a number of more traditional tea items, like finger sandwiches and small sweet bites.

Each order includes one each per person of a buttermilk scone and a sultana scone with citrus marmalade and creme fraiche; tea sandwiches like chicken salad, smoked salmon; and prawn and cucumber; mini cheesecake with berries; a macaron; a blini with cream cheese and macerated strawberries and a few more delicious bites. It’s not just a full meal (with some leftover bites to enjoy later likely) but also a really special treat to be able to whisk the whole tea service out of the hotel restaurant and into your own home, or on a sunny day to your own patio or favourite park. 

“It is a unique time for Vancouver restaurant patrons, with the continued limitations to indoor dining and restrictions in place to keep us all safe,” says David Baarschers, Executive Chef at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. “This tea to-go experience offers Vancouverites a way to enjoy the tradition of afternoon tea wherever and however they feel most comfortable.”

Notch8 will offer its new Afternoon Tea To-Go through the summer. The meal is priced at $69 per person with a two-person minimum per order. Add-ons include options like bottles of prosecco or champagne, too. Orders can be placed online and contact-less pick-up is available Saturday and Sunday at noon and 2 p.m.



Possible Peter Pan movie set constructed in Richmond

A giant pirate ship forms part of the large set on the south arm of the Fraser River in southeast Richmond

This pirate ship movie set has sprung up in rural, southeast Richmond | Stevie G LaRocca photo

A giant movie set in a remote part of Richmond is piquing the curiosity of some local residents.

Near Riverport Way and Triangle Road – close to Silvercity Cinema – the set features a pirate ship surrounded by a massive wall of white.

Rumours are that a remake of Peter Pan is being filmed, given that Disney is known to be filming the children’s classic fairy tale in the Vancouver area this spring.

Richmond resident Stevie G LaRocca spotted the set going up a couple of weeks ago and watched as it grew quickly in the days ahead.

The movie, if it is indeed Peter Pan, will be called “Peter Pan and Wendy” and will star Alexander Molony as the flying teenager and Ever Anderson (Milla Jovovich's daughter) as Wendy.


Co-stars will be Jude Law, Ever Anderson, Yara Shahidi, Alexander Molony and Alyssa Wapanatâhk.

Law will play Captain Hook, Gaffigan will be Smee and Shahidi will be Tinkerbell.

According to a recent Disney press release, principal photography will be shot in Vancouver.

The release also doesn't give much information on the plot, other than it's "J. M. Barrie’s novel 'Peter and Wendy' and inspired by the 1953 animated classic", so it's uncertain whether it'll follow as closely to the animated film as the live-action Lion King or vary more like the Mulan live-action remake.

It's shooting under the name "Bonfire," according to a production list from the Director's Guild of Canada. Originally the film was slated to be shot last year, but the pandemic delayed things.

The film will be released on Disney+ in 2022, according to the film studio.

– With files from Vancouver Is Awesome



What are we reading? April 15, 2021

Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Science writer Kristina Jenel says the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in B.C. in recent weeks comes down to one factor: “The B.C. government approach of encouraging changes in individual behaviour with non-enforceable ‘recommendations’ is clearly not working.” To change that, Jenel, says, B.C. would have to get a lot tougher on travel, by imposing surcharges and other measures to limit visits to B.C. by residents of other provinces, and banning out-of-town bookings by B.C. residents. – The Tyee


Canadian post-secondary students are increasingly suffering from stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation as the pandemic lingers on. Simon Fraser University graduate student Kaelynn Shinkaruk offers a way to fight the problem with a strategy of mental-health literacy. – Georgia Straight


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

It’s a fascinating thought that the secret to being productive is finding time to do nothing. 

Go for a walk. Do dishes. Take a long shower. Daydream while listening to experimental jazz. 

All help the brain recharge so you can better focus when required. 

Here’s a good reminder. – Wall Street Journal


While thinking about finding time to do nothing, how about taking a vacation? 

Some employees have hesitated to take vacations during the pandemic either because they can’t travel, or because they fear for job security, say some executives. 

HR execs want employees to take allotted vacation time because that time is a liability on corporate books if it is not taken. 

Google now offers an extra day off for employees who take vacation time.
PWC is doing one better: offering US250 for every full week of vacation taken, up to $1,000 per year.
With beautiful spring weather upon us, it might be a good time to take a vacation even if your employer doesn’t provide extra perks. – Wall Street Journal


It’s nearing a year since Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho died, at the age of 98.

I thought about him while on a walk, passing the iconic Stanley Lodge condominium he developed at the corner of West Georgia and Chilco Streets, by Lost Lagoon, on the site of the former Stuart Building. 

The site’s name is a curious double entendre in that it is by Stanley Park while also having been developed by Stanley Ho.
Here’s a blog post on the old Stuart Building. – Eve Lazarus blog


And an obit of Stanley Ho from May 2020. – New York Times


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Why you need to start worrying about the rapid rise in space junk – Scientific America


What's the wait time for a BCAA repair call on Mars? NASA and its Mars lander need to know. – Science Alert


A potential wind turbine technology breakthrough that could provide an efficient beer-barrel-sized renewable energy source in sun-starved regions and other locations with limited green energy alternatives. – Euronews