Annual Survey of the Aquaculture Industry (AQUA)

Detailed information for 2016





Record number:


The Annual Survey of the Aquaculture Industry collects the financial and operating data needed to develop national and regional economic policies and programs.

Data release - November 16, 2017


The Survey of the Aquaculture Industry is designed to provide economic variables that result in the aquaculture value added account, which measures the economic production (value added) of goods and services from aquaculture establishments.

Aquaculture is the managed production of fish. In Canada, the industry is dominated by the production of finfish, primarily salmon off the coasts of British Columbia and New Brunswick. Production of shellfish is smaller with Prince Edward Island and British Columbia being the major producing provinces.

These data are used by aquaculture industry analysts and producers as they make production and marketing decisions and by government analysts or special interest groups to monitor the industry or develop policies related to aquaculture in Canada. The data are used in the Canadian System of National Accounts to develop provincial and national level accounts. As of reference year 2009, this survey is conducted for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, on a cost recovery basis.

Statistical activity

The survey is administered as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP). The IBSP has been designed to integrate approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The IBSP aims at collecting industry and product detail at the provincial level while minimizing overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure, and content.

The integrated approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts. The combined results produce more coherent and accurate statistics on the economy.


  • Agriculture and food (formerly Agriculture)
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Financial statements and performance
  • Livestock and aquaculture

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is all establishments classified to aquaculture under the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS 2012) code 112510 that operated for at least one day during the reference year.

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in farm-raising finfish, shellfish, or any other kind of aquatic animal. These establishments use some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as keeping animals in captivity, regular stocking and feeding of animals, and protecting them from predators.

The aquaculture industry includes hatcheries and sales within the industry, for example, sales from a hatchery to a grow-out operation are included. The aquaculture industry does not include sport fishing and the wild fishery.

Instrument design

The IBSP incorporates business surveys into a single framework, using questionnaires with a consistent look, structure and content.

The questionnaire satisfies the statistical requirements for financial information as expressed by the Canadian System of National Accounts and businesses and associations operating within the aquaculture industry.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

Establishments classified to aquaculture.

The frame that is used for the selection of the probability sample is Statistics Canada's Business Register. This list frame is updated and verified prior to sample selection. For 2016, the frame included 917 establishments classified to aquaculture.

Before a sample is taken, the records are stratified by province. Within each province, to improve the efficiency of the sample design, strata are defined using the gross revenue variable on the Business Register.

The "must-take" stratum contains the enterprises (with all its associated establishments) with revenue greater than or equal to $25,000,000. All of these establishments are sent a questionnaire.

The "take-none" stratum contains the establishments with gross business revenue less than a cut-off. Take-none strata serve to reduce respondent burden by excluding the smaller businesses from the surveyed population. These businesses should represent at most ten percent of total sales. Instead of sending questionnaires to these businesses, the estimates will be produced through the use of administrative data.

For the establishments not selected in the "must-take" (greater than $25,000,000) or "take none" (less than the cut-off), three strata are defined to improve the efficiency of the sample design. There is a "take-all" stratum (all establishments are sent a questionnaire) and there are two "take-some" strata (a sample of establishments are selected and sent a questionnaire).

The overall sample size for 2016 was 136 establishments.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2017-04-01 to 2017-10-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

The survey is collected primarily through an electronic questionnaire while providing respondents with an option to receive a paper questionnaire, reply by telephone interview or use other electronic reported methods.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Error detection is an integral part of both collection and data processing activities. Automated edits are applied to data records during collection to identify reporting and capture errors. These edits identify potential errors based on year-over-year changes in key variables, totals, and ratios that exceed tolerance thresholds, as well as identify problems in the consistency of collected data (e.g. a total variable does not equal the sum of its parts). During data processing, other edits are used to automatically detect errors or inconsistencies that remain in the data following collection. These edits include value edits (e.g. Value > 0, Value > -500, Value = 0), linear equality edits (e.g. Value1 + Value2 = TotalValue), linear inequality edits (e.g. Value1= Value2), and equivalency edits (e.g. Value1 = Value2). When errors are found, they can be corrected using the failed edit follow up process during collection or via imputation. Extreme values are also flagged as outliers, using automated methods based on the distribution of the collected information. Following their detection, these values are reviewed to assess their reliability. Manual review of other units may lead to additional outliers identified. These outliers are excluded from use in the calculation of ratios and trends used for imputation, and during donor imputation. In general, every effort is made to minimize the non-sampling errors of omission, duplication, misclassification, reporting, and processing.


When non-response occurs, when respondents do not completely answer the questionnaire, or when reported data are considered incorrect during the error detection steps, imputation is used to fill in the missing information and modify the incorrect information. Many methods of imputation may be used to complete a questionnaire, including manual changes made by an analyst. The automated, statistical techniques used to impute the missing data include: deterministic imputation, replacement using historical data (with a trend calculated, when appropriate), replacement using auxiliary information available from other sources, replacement based on known data relationships for the sample unit, and replacement using data from a similar unit in the sample (known as donor imputation). Usually, key variables are imputed first and are used as anchors in subsequent steps to impute other, related, variables.

Imputation generates a complete and coherent micro data file that covers all survey variables.


When some enterprises have reported data combining many units located in more than one province or territory, or in more than one industrial classification, data allocation is required. Factors based on information from sources such as tax files and Business Register profiles are used to allocate the data reported on the combined report among the various estimation units where this enterprise is in operation.

The sample used for estimation comes from a two-phase sampling process. An initial sampling weight (the design weight) is calculated for each unit of the survey and is simply the multiplication of the inverse of the probability of selection from each phase. It is then adjusted to take into account units that might have been misclassified (large units found in a stratum of small units for example). In addition, the sampling weights derived are modified and adjusted using updated information from taxation data. Using a statistical technique called calibration, the final set of weights is adjusted in such a way that the sample represents as closely as possible the taxation data of the population of this industry.

The weight calculated for each sampling unit indicates how many other units it represents. The final weights are usually either one or greater than one. Sampling units which are "Take-all" have sampling weights of one and only represent themselves; units with larger than expected size are seen as misclassified and their weight is usually adjusted so that they only represent themselves.

The sampling unit being the enterprise, it can represent numerous locations which might contribute to different parts of the population (different sub-industries, province/territory, etc.). Each location is considered an estimation unit. The characteristics of the estimation units are used to derive the domains of estimation, including the industrial classification and the geography. Estimation for the survey portion is done by simple aggregation of the weighted values of all sampled locations that are found in the domain of estimation. Estimates are computed for several domains of estimation such as industrial groups and provinces/territories, based on the most recent classification information available for the location and the survey reference period. It should be noted that this classification information may differ from the original sampling classification because records may have changed in size, industry, or location. Changes in classification are reflected immediately in the estimates.

In the case of the ineligible for sampling portion (also called take-none portion) of the target population defined in Statistics Canada's Business Activity, Expenditure and Output Survey, taxation data is simply aggregated to come up with an estimate. If an estimate is required and taxation data is not available, modeling using auxiliary taxation data is done to create data for all requested variables for each unit in the take-none portion. These are also simply aggregated to produce the estimate. The overall estimate includes the estimates from both the surveyed portion and the take-none portion.

Quality evaluation

Prior to the data release, combined survey results are analyzed for comparability; in general, this includes a detailed review of: individual responses (especially for the largest companies), general economic conditions, coherence with results from related economic indicator, historical trends, and information from other external sources (e.g. associations, trade publications, newspaper articles).

The survey estimates are also analyzed with trends observed in related Statistics Canada data series.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

All surveys are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling error occurs because population estimates are derived from a sample of the population rather than the entire population. Non-sampling error is not related to sampling and may occur for various reasons during the collection and processing of data. For example, non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. Under or over-coverage of the population, differences in the interpretations of questions and mistakes in recording, coding and processing data are other examples of non-sampling errors. To the maximum extent possible, these errors are minimized through careful design of the survey questionnaire, verification of the survey data, and follow-up with respondents when needed to maximize response rates.

Measures of sampling error are calculated for each estimate. Also, when non-response occurs, it is taken into account and the quality is reduced based on its importance to the estimate. Other indicators of quality are also provided such as the response rate.

Both the sampling error and the non-response rate are combined into one quality rating code. This code uses letters that ranges from A to F where A means the data is of excellent quality and F means it is unreliable. Estimates with a quality of F are not published. These quality rating codes can be requested and should always be taken into consideration.

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