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TODAY marks the start of British Columbia's Aquaculture Awareness Week, on Vancouver Island – an annual event aimed at raising awareness of the industry and providing the chance to thank the thousands of hard-working men and women who make the industry a success.

"Our members work every day to contribute to their communities – and yet, there are many things people don't know about aquaculture," said Mary Ellen Walling, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. "Our goal during this week each year is to focus on building the understanding and pride in one of the key drivers for rural and coastal communities in BC."

Campbell River and Port Hardy councils have approved proclamations for Aquaculture Awareness Week, following requests by the BCSFA. The proclamations recognize the important role that aquaculture – particularly salmon farming – plays in both communities and the BCSFA's goal of better educating the public about their members' operations and opportunities.

"As the public awareness aspect of Aquaculture Awareness Week has grown and changed over the years, this week has also evolved into a celebration of the contributions of those who work in our industry and the work they do to support the communities they live in," said Walling. "Volunteering with search and rescue, raising money for cancer research and supporting the local food bank are just some of the activities our workers are proud to take part in. Aquaculture Awareness Week affords the industry a chance to recognize those employees for that hard work and a chance to say thank-you."

Aquaculture Awareness Week also coincides with the BCSFA's Annual General Meeting, which brings representatives from across the province. Sponsors for this year's AGM include the District of Port Hardy, Walcan Seafoods, Creative Salmon, Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems and Skretting.

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