The Government of Canada is demonstrating leadership on aquaculture management to ensure fish farming in Canada is done in the most sustainable and environmentally progressive way

Backgrounder

Area-Based Aquaculture Management

Area-based management will enhance collaboration between federal, provincial and Indigenous partners through improved information sharing, collective planning and ongoing monitoring and management of aquaculture activities.  Area-based management ensures that the planning, monitoring and ongoing management of aquaculture activities takes into consideration indigenous knowledge, and unique environmental, social and economic conditions.

The Government of Canada is targeting northern Vancouver Island as the general location to pilot this approach.  Discussions are underway with the Province of British Columbia, Indigenous peoples and communities. 

While some other jurisdictions have moved towards more comprehensive planning and assessment of potential aquaculture activities, the proposed area-based approach‎ will ensure that Indigenous and community concerns are taken into account in the planning and approval of aquaculture facilities. This goal will be achieved by not only looking at the potential impacts of a specific site but also the wider ecosystem, such as bays and estuaries, where these facilities would be located in collaboration with Indigenous and provincial partners.

Framework for Aquaculture Risk Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been using the Sustainable Fisheries Framework to guide fisheries management decisions and how the precautionary approach is implemented for fisheries. Building upon our existing risk management framework on how we make fishery decisions while incorporating the precautionary approach, we are seeking to clearly outline and explain how we make decisions on aquaculture including how we use the precautionary approach specifically for aquaculture decision-making when there is scientific uncertainty.

This directly responds to recommendations from the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development, industry, and from Canadians who have asked for more transparency on how aquaculture decisions are made, the information that was used in making decisions, and how the precautionary approach was used. The framework for aquaculture risk management will outline a step-wise process to be followed, and includes a commitment to publishing decisions, polices and the scientific advice that was received in support of aquaculture decisions.  We will be advancing this initiative in partnership with the public, environmental groups, Indigenous peoples and provincial governments.

State of Salmon Aquaculture Technology Study

This study will be led and funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Province of British Columbia; and will be guided by an independent Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will include Indigenous partners, industry, environmental non-governmental groups and governments.

The study will review the global state of salmon production technology, including a full examination of the wide range of current and emerging alternative technologies for aquaculture.  A key focus will be potential ways these technologies can reduce interactions between aquaculture and the environment, including any potential impacts on wild salmon. Potential areas of study include technologies around land-based and ocean-based closed-containment, as well as open-ocean or offshore aquaculture. 

The study will also identify how Canada could support industry in putting these technologies in place in the future. We are targeting the end of the spring for the completion of the study, with the final report being released publically by summer 2019.

Over two thirds of Canada’s farmed salmon production occurs in British Columbia. As such it was determined that the B.C. operating environment would provide the most relevant context for potential new technologies. However, it is expected the outcomes of the study could be relevant and apply to other areas of the country as well.

Federal Aquaculture Legislation

At the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers meeting in St. John’s Newfoundland December 4-5, 2018, Ministers agreed to support the development of a new federal act that will provide enhanced certainty to businesses, improve sector transparency, while appropriately recognizing provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The new federal act would continue to ensure that Canada’s aquaculture industry is a global leader in producing high-quality aquaculture products in an environmentally sustainable manner. As part of on-going efforts with provinces and territories, the department is also considering the development of national standards for aquaculture.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also moving forward in creating a single, comprehensive set of aquaculture regulations, called the General Aquaculture Regulations, which would bring more clarity for industry, stakeholders and the Canadian public about how aquaculture is managed for responsible growth in Canada.

This initiative is in line with a broader Government of Canada regulatory review announced in Budget 2018 and the Red Tape Reduction Initiative, which strive to consolidate regulations, make Canada’s regulatory system more transparent, agile and responsible, and support innovation and growth.

Moving forward, we will work closely with our provincial and territorial partners, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders, and industry to create an effective and responsible regulatory framework for aquaculture in Canada.

December 10, 2018

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