Federal Aquaculture Act will build on an already impressive record of safety and sustainability, say Canada’s salmon farmers.
By Fabian Dawson
Canada’s salmon farmers say a Federal Aquaculture Act is needed to address many of the issues raised in a recent audit by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand.
Gelfand in her report tabled last week said while salmon aquaculture is a growing industry in Canada that provides an important source of fish, given declining wild fish stocks, the government isn’t doing enough to set national standards for oversight.
“A Federal Aquaculture Act can address many of the issues raised in the audit and clarify roles and responsibilities of federal regulators, critical for protecting the environment and growing sustainably,” said Timothy Kennedy, Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.
He suggested that the Gelfand audit and recommendations by the Independent Expert Panel on Aquaculture Science, led by Canada’s chief science advisor Dr. Mona Nemer, can provide the cornerstones for a Federal Aquaculture Act.
“We understand the federal government is doing a comprehensive review of its approach to aquaculture. This includes looking at a new Aquaculture Act that will provide a modern legal framework for managing the sector. Canadian salmon farmers have a long history of working with regulators to ensure salmon farms operate at the highest standards. This includes every salmon farm in Canada now achieving at least one international certification from a third-party environmental standards organization,” said Kennedy.
Ian Roberts, Public Affairs Director at Marine Harvest Canada in British Columbia (pictured), agrees that the Commissioner’s report and recommendation echo what Canadian farmers have been asking for in a Federal Aquaculture Act.
“BC’s salmon farming sector supports policy and regulations that help build a sustainable salmon sector, protect the environment where we raise our fish, provide additional research capacity to better understand our ocean ecosystem, and effectively communicate to the public how modern-day salmon farms operate in Canada.”
In 2016, the salmon aquaculture industry in Canada was valued at $1 billion.
Canada is the fourth largest producer of farmed salmon after Norway, Chile, and the United Kingdom. The Canadian salmon farming industry is considered to have significant potential for growth due to Canada’s long coastline, cold water temperatures, and proximity to the United States market.
The push for a Federal Aquaculture Act was mooted by business in Campbell River, BC, last month. Campbell River, which prides itself as the Salmon Capital of the World, urging both the B.C. government to work with Ottawa to provide fair access to long term tenures for the aquaculture industry.
The Campbell River Chamber of Commerce, representing some 500 businesses on Vancouver Island, in a policy document states the development of a federal aquaculture act, will establish national environmental standards and clarify industry responsibilities.
“Appropriate legislation would recognize in law the long-standing reality of aquaculture as a legitimate caretaker of Canada’s aquatic resources, the Chamber said. “It would support efforts to ensure a modern industry and build on an already impressive record of safety and sustainability.
“The introduction of this legislation could help facilitate the currently ad hoc regulatory changes coming forward from DFO and would enable Canada to realize its full potential, creating new jobs and expanding opportunity in an industry that can be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable,” the Chamber said.