Interim Framework for Aquaculture Risk Management


The Interim Framework for Aquaculture Risk Management outlines how Fisheries and Oceans Canada applies the precautionary approach in decision making for aquaculture in Canada.

The interim framework was designed to be consistent with the Sustainable Fisheries Framework (SFF), currently used as the foundation for an ecosystem-based and precautionary approach to the management of Canada’s wild capture fisheries. It uses similar approaches and principles as the SFF, supporting conservation and sustainable use of the ecosystems where aquaculture facilities are located.

There are six major elements in the Department’s approach to managing the environmental risk that may occur from aquaculture activities:

  • Ecosystem Objectives are informed by Indigenous knowledge, legislation, intergovernmental and international agreements and other local and ecological knowledge.
  • Issue Identification considers the aquaculture-related activity, the associated stressors and predicted possible effects. New issues for assessment are identified through the results of scientific research or monitoring, through new information on environmental changes, including climate change, or through public engagement.
  • Scientific Advice and Scientific Risk Assessments provide science advice on the scale and potential effects of impacts on wild fish and fish habitat. These risk assessments assess the likelihood and the consequences of impacts from an aquaculture activity based on the current state of knowledge by scientific and technical experts, and includes identifying areas of uncertainty.
  • Risk Analysis evaluates the broad range of social, cultural, legal, economic and scientific information, in the context of legal requirements and management objectives, to inform risk management approaches.
  • Risk Management includes the assessment and selection of measures to reduce harm, monitoring options, the use of the precautionary approach where there is scientific uncertainty, and the selection and implementation of a risk management strategy.
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation of the aquaculture activity is achieved through regular compliance monitoring, environmental checks, fish health audits and mandated regulatory reporting. This information is used in the issue identification step to support the potential need for adapting management activities and to re-evaluate risks and approaches to reduce risk.

Interim Framework on the Transfer of Live Fish

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has developed an interim decision-making framework under s. 56 of the Fisheries (General) Regulations on the transfer of fish from hatcheries to marine waters and between marine sites. The development of this framework is aligned with all the elements of the interim Framework for Aquaculture Risk Management.

This will serve as a new and enhanced decision-making guide for considering whether or not to issue licences for fish transfers (as above). The interim framework sets out a process for assessing the impact of transfers on wild fish and determining if testing for pathogens is warranted, while respecting the applicable provisions of the Fisheries (General) Regulations governing the movement of fish.

This interim framework suggests consideration of a variety of factors:

  • the status of wild stocks in the area of the farm for the transfer;
  • the recent health status of farmed fish in the area;
  • the extent of exposure of the wild stocks to the farm, to assess the risk that a transfer of smolts may pose to wild fish; and,
  • Indigenous traditional knowledge.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is engaging on these two documents over the next 60 days.

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