It looks like the federal government’s decision to close salmon farms in the Discovery Islands will impact workers in the Lower Mainland too.

That’s according to a new independent economic analysis released yesterday (Wednesday) by the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).

While Campbell River is Canada’s salmon farming capital, it says Surrey is the hub of salmon farming in Metro Vancouver, home to numerous operations in salmon feed milling, fish processing, trucking, packaging, and the provision of goods and services.

BCSFA executive director John Paul Fraser says the salmon farming industry in B.C. is interconnected, with an extensive supply chain.

“Closing our farms in the Discovery Islands shuts down a quarter of our production in B.C., which significantly reduces how much feed is needed, how many fish will be coming into the processing plants, packaging, the number of trucks needed to transport fish, and shipping,” he says. “Much of this work is done in Surrey.”

The report, titled ‘Surrey Supplement,’ was prepared by RIAS Inc., an independent economics firm.

They analyzed how the federal government’s December 17th decision to close salmon farms in the Discovery Islands area puts jobs and economic development at risk in Surrey.

According to the BCSFA, Discovery Islands farms produce a quarter of the farm-raised salmon in B.C.

“RIAS Inc. found salmon farming companies have a direct economic impact in Surrey from fish processing, feed milling, truck transportation, packaging, and warehousing and distribution operations in that municipality,” it says.

Direct impacts within Surrey attributed to salmon farming companies include $220-million in annual revenue, $46-million in GDP, 344 full-time jobs, and $24-million in annual salaries.

And, it found that province-wide indirect and induced economic impact generated by Surrey’s salmon farming hub include over $363-million in annual revenues, $122-million in GDP, 1,189 full-time jobs, and $65-million in salaries.

“The report very likely underestimates the impact of salmon farming in Surrey,” says report author and RIAS Inc. president Doug Blair.

“It doesn’t account for the likelihood that the impact in Surrey will be outsized as the salmon farming industry faces a 24 per cent decline in production, it will be forced to consolidate processing operations on Vancouver Island to maintain economies of scale.”

However, he adds it’s clear “a substantial number of jobs will be lost in Surrey as salmon farmers attempt to adapt to the impacts of the federal Liberal’s Discovery Islands decision over the next year.”

The BCSFA is now calling on the federal government to consider “a more responsible path forward,” to help minimize impacts on B.C.’s coastal communities.

Find the full report here.