The Emperor of Fish
Glittering and leaping as they fight their way up the rapids of a Canadian river, salmon are among the world's most splendid fish. Nowadays, Canadian salmon are both farmed and caught wild. Fresh, frozen, smoked or canned in modern plants that use the most exacting standards of quality, they're a cornerstone of the country's seafood industry and are exported all over the world. Indeed, Canada is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of salmon.
The bounty of Canadian salmon helped shape many First Nations cultures, and many Canadian communities on both our Atlantic and Pacific coasts still depend on salmon for their prosperity and livelihoods.
Call of the wild
Most Canadian wild salmon comes from the coast of British Columbia, with sockeye being the most important commercial species. The yearly salmon runs are crucial to the province's economy, and First Nations fishers still use some traditional methods of dipnets and spears to catch the salmon on their way upstream. The commercial fishing fleet works farther offshore, and uses a variety of modern fishing methods.
Wild Pacific salmon is available whole, or dressed into a range of cuts such as steaks, fillets and roasts. A large percentage of the sockeye and pink salmon harvest is canned, and a significant quantity is exported to the United Kingdom and Australia. Canadian wild
salmon is available in many value-added products as well, such as salmon caviar, hot and cold smoked salmon, marinated fillets, frozen salmon entrées, salmon jerky, salted salmon, and salmon burgers and patties. Canadian seafood producers are always developing new value-added salmon products to bring to both the domestic and world markets.
Down on the (fish) farm
Farmed Atlantic salmon make up the bulk of Canada's salmon exports. On the Atlantic coast, salmon farming began in New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy and is now widely practised in Nova Scotia and to a lesser extent in Newfoundland. In British Columbia, salmon aquaculture is centred on Vancouver Island; here, too, the most common farmed species is the Atlantic salmon.
Canadian farmed salmon is available in many different forms tailored to consumer demand. Buyers can purchase them fresh, frozen or smoked, and either whole or dressed into skin-on or skin-off steaks and fillets. Relatively small amounts are canned, but many producers are moving into value-added products such as salmon paté, salmon kabobs, and marinated and peppered salmon steaks.
Nutrition and quality
Salmon is a healthy and nutritious choice for appetizers, entrees and snacks. It is high in protein and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Because it has a high oil content, it contains significant concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to health benefits such as lower incidences of cardiovascular disease.
Canadian salmon is not only healthy but also very safe to eat, thanks to one of the world's most rigorous fish inspection and control systems, overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which sets stringent standards for fish products, fish processing and fish handling. All establishments that harvest or process salmon for export must be federally registered and must comply strictly with international Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles.
The CFIA also inspects salmon for contaminants and ensures that the results fall within the guidelines established by Health Canada, another federal government department. These guidelines meet the standards of both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
Taste the Canadian difference
Taken from some of the most pristine waters in the world, Canadian salmon is praised everywhere for its freshness and taste. For further information on Canada's salmon industry, please visit:
- Fish and Seafood Industry: www.agr.gc.ca
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/index-eng.htm
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency: www.inspection.gc.ca
- Government of British Columbia: www.env.gov.bc.ca/omfd/index.html
- Government of New Brunswick: www.gnb.ca/0027/Index-e.asp
- Government of Newfoundland and Labrador: www.fishaq.gov.nl.ca
- Government of Nova Scotia: www.gov.ns.ca/fish
- Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance: www.aquaculture.ca
- British Columbia Salmon Farmers Association: www.salmonfarmers.org
- New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association: www.nbsga.com
- Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia: www.aansonline.ca
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