First Nations crucial in Canada’s new approach to aquaculture

Government committed to moving forward with aquaculture in a way that protects the oceans, and fish stocks, and creates thousands of jobs for middle class Canadians

By Fabian Dawson

The value of Indigenous and local knowledge must be used to create a precedent-setting model for aquaculture risk-based decision-making in Canada, a new government report has recommended.

As Canada embarks on a new approach to building confidence in the aquaculture industry, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) should also develop a communication plan to proactively disseminate aquaculture science to consumers, the general public, scientists and industry.

“Such an approach would allow information on scientific findings, scientific uncertainties and science-informed decisions to be communicated at the appropriate level,” the report by the Independent Expert Panel led by Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Dr. Mona Nemer (pictured) concluded.

The findings were released yesterday by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, Jonathan Wilkinson, and the Minister of Science and Sport, Kirsty Duncan.

“We are committed to moving forward in a way that protects the environment, the oceans and the fish stocks and that will create thousands of jobs for middle class Canadians,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

“Making decisions based on science and evidence is a top priority of the government.

“Making our oceans cleaner, safer and healthier is critical. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that fish and their habitat are protected for future generations, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

“Since Budget 2016, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has hired more than 290 science professionals across the country to better protect and manage our oceans.

“Over the past two years, we have also put in place new practices and procedures in response to the Cohen Commission and theCommissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s audit report on salmon farming. Earlier this fall, we announced that the Government of Canada has acted on all 75 recommendations of the Cohen Commission,” the statement read.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) said it supported recommendations to advance public understanding of the science of aquaculture.

“We strongly agree with the Panel that “Open science represents an important opportunity for meaningful engagement with communities, stakeholders, Indigenous communities and external science experts,” CAIA said in a statement.

“Seafood farming exists in a very complex regulatory and science environment. There is a very large body of high quality science that has been done, but the public is oftentimes not aware of this work.”

Quick Facts:

The Government of Canada is moving forward with a suite of initiatives that will ensure that our aquaculture sector is economically successful and environmentally sustainable. Key initiatives in the renewed approach include:

A study on the alternative technologies for aquaculture, including land and sea-based closed containment technology. This will enable us to determine gaps that limit commercial readiness and help to inform future technology development efforts. The study will be conducted in partnership with Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Province of British Columbia;

Moving towards an area-based approach to aquaculture management – to ensure that environmental, social and economic factors are taken into consideration when identifying potential areas for aquaculture development – including considerations relating to migration pathways for wild salmon;

Developing a framework for aquaculture risk management, based on the precautionary approach, which will ensure the sustainable management of aquaculture, and will be the overarching framework for future policies. We will work with, provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and the scientific community;

Creating a single comprehensive set of regulations, the General Aquaculture Regulations. This will bring more clarity for industry, stakeholders and the Canadian public about how aquaculture is managed for responsible growth in Canada.


 Report of the Independent Expert Panel on Aquaculture Science

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