Sustainable aquaculture in Canada

Canada sees net gains from proposed Aquaculture Act

“Sustainable aquaculture is a cornerstone of Canada’s fish and seafood sector, playing an important role in the country’s food security and helping drive economic growth,” – Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

By Fabian Dawson

SeaWestNews

The Government of Canada wants to hear from you on how to develop a new regulatory regime that will help position the nation as a global leader in sustainable, high-quality, aquaculture products.

Announcing the next phase of the public engagement process on the first-ever Aquaculture Act for Canada, Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard said the proposed Act will provide more clarity and certainty as this industry continues to develop across Canada.

“The women and men in Canada’s aquaculture sector have been feeding Canadians and the world for years – and as the industry grows, we need to ensure the rules and regulations keep up with its growth,” she said.

“Sustainable aquaculture is a cornerstone of Canada’s fish and seafood sector, playing an important role in the country’s food security and helping drive economic growth, particularly in rural, coastal, and Indigenous communities.

“I look forward to hearing from Canadians, provincial and territorial partners, Indigenous peoples, industry, and key stakeholders, as we chart this new path forward together,” she said.

Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Jordan said the Aquaculture Act will provide a nationally consistent and adaptable legislative framework, while also taking into account regional differences.

Canada’s farmed seafood sector has advocated for an Aquaculture Act for many years and welcomes the next phase of stakeholder consultation, said Tim Kennedy, President & CEO of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA).

“Given previous consultations initiated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada on many of the issues raised within the department’s discussion paper, CAIA strongly urges the federal government to move swiftly to engage stakeholders this fall so that it can move forward with tabling legislation in 2021,” he told SeaWestNews.

“CAIA and Canada’s seafood farmers believe it is critical to finally provide a legislative framework for Canada’s growing and sustainable aquaculture sector that ensures growth and opportunity for Canada’s rural and coastal communities, ensures environmental fish and fish habitat protection and enhances already growing opportunities for partnership with Canada’s Indigenous peoples and communities.

There are perhaps no other sectors in Canada that have the capacity to simultaneously drive job creation, provide domestic food security, support meaningful indigenous reconciliation and realize sustainable food production, as the seafood farming sector can,” he said.

Canada currently remains the world’s only major farmed seafood producing country without modern national legislation specifically designed to govern a responsible and sustainable aquaculture industry.

The country’s seafood farming industry generates an estimated $5.16 billion in economic activity and 25,000 full-time jobs for Canadians.

The push for a Federal Aquaculture Act, was originally mooted by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce.

Similar proposed legislation has also been introduced in the United States. The Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act is aimed to increase the United States’ involvement and production of healthy, sustainable, and affordable seafood.

The latest Agri-food Report from Canada’s Economic Strategy Table also pushed for a Federal Aquaculture Act citing the potential for the sector to nearly double production from 200,565 tonnes in 2016 to 381,900 tonnes in 2028 to meet rising global demand.

The federal report found the current complex regulatory framework stifled growth and opportunity for the aquaculture sector and called for an economic growth approach for the sector via a new Federal Aquaculture Act.

A discussion paper providing background on aquaculture in Canada, rationale for the proposed legislation and an overview of the elements proposed for the new Act, is now available on the DFO’s website, with key questions to guide feedback to the Government.

The public will have until January 15, 2021 to participate in this round of consultation.

(Photo courtesy of  Gindara Sablefish)

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