The B.C. Seafood Expo in Comox Valley on June 12 and 13 is one of the largest seafood industry trade events in the Pacific Northwest. File photo

B.C. Seafood Expo an important part of upcoming seafood festival in the Comox Valley

Some of Canada’s top culinary artists will join scores of seafood buyers, aquaculture experts, industry leaders and government representatives to network, meet and grow the seafood industry at the 2019 edition of the B.C. Seafood Expo.

The event in Comox Valley June 12 and 13 is one of the largest seafood industry trade events in the Pacific Northwest.

The expo is wrapped around the 2019 BC Seafood Festival, which will be held from June 7-16.

“The festival is now the largest seafood festival in western Canada, and the expo and trade show components this year has attracted a record number of exhibitors, delegates, buyers and suppliers,” said John Watson, executive director of Comox Valley Economic Development, the organization that collaborates with a wide range of seafood organizations and institutions to develop the B.C. Seafood Expo annually.

“It is an excellent opportunity to showcase your services to a diverse range of both wild fishery, and aquaculture sectors and leaders.”

The expo features dozens of trade show exhibitors, leading speakers in their fields, and provides a venue to network with industry leaders, international buyers, distributors, and educators for every type of fish, seafood, and seafood-related products and services.

The program is also packed with educational sessions covering seafood business and leadership, aquaculture, food safety, policy, sustainability, traceability and transparency.

“The BC Seafood Expo is a great opportunity to bring everyone together to talk about the business…It is really the only time every year that the entire seafood business gets together in B.C.,” said Jeremy Dunn, director of public affairs for Mowi Canada West.

The Seafood Expo also brings attention to both the farmed and wild fisheries sector here in the province, said Dunn.

“Seafood is an incredibly important business for B.C. Having local, regional and national leaders gain a greater awareness and understanding is really important,” he said.

As in previous years, Mowi, which operates salmon farms around Vancouver Island, where 600 people produce 45,000 tonnes of sustainable farm-raised Atlantic salmon each year, will be staging farm tours for buyers and chefs.

Another of the exhibitors is the Underwater Harvesters Association (UHA), a non-profit association formed in 1981 to represent the 55 B.C. geoduck and horse clam licence holders. Association members also include crew members from the harvesting vessels and the geoduck wholesalers located in B.C. There are 34 First Nations participating in the fishery.

“We are a big supporter of the Seafood Expo as it provides a platform to showcase to British Columbians the sustainability of our fisheries,” said Grant Dovey, UHA’s executive director.

“Much of our harvest is exported to Asian markets, and our primary interest is connecting with international buyers at the Expo and looking for leads,” he said.

The buyers’ delegation to this year’s expo is the largest of its kind, organizers said. They include buyers from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore.

Other members of the international delegation, organized by the Ministry of Jobs, Trade & Technology International Buyers Mission, hail from USA, Ukraine, Poland, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Serbia.

One of the keynote speakers this year will be Mark Saunders, director of the International Year of the Salmon – Pacific Region.

The International Year of the Salmon is a five-year outreach and research initiative of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, with a focal year in 2019. The year aims to raise public awareness, gather stakeholders, stimulate science and inspire action to protect salmon.

The highlight of the two-day expo is the Flying Fresh Air Freight International Buyers’ Reception.

Helmed by Brendan Harnett, Flying Fresh Air Freight Cargo is Canada’s top perishable freight forwarder. Close to 70 per cent of its business involves seafood, and the company moves about 16 million kilos of Canadian farmed salmon, wild fish, lobster, geoduck, halibut and oysters all around the world.

Award-winning food stylist, Nathan Fong — Fong on Food — the event’s chef producer, has brought together a dozen chefs for the International Buyers’ Reception with a wide range of talents from around the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island and B.C.

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