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Canada seeks public feedback on proposed Aquaculture Act


Bernadette Jordan

The Canadian government yesterday has launched the framework for the country’s first ever Aquaculture Act. An integral part of the act is the federal government’s plans to transition from open net fish farms to land-based aquaculture.

In making the announcement, Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, said the federal government said it hopes to signal  that sustainable aquaculture is a cornerstone of Canada’s aquaculture and seafood sector.

The proposed legislation was first unveiled in October last year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The comprehensive agenda aims to transform the country’s aquaculture industry. At that time, Trudeau vowed that his government will work with British Columbia to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.

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The proposed Act will provide more clarity and certainty as this industry continues to develop across Canada, a press release from the government said.

“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,” Jordan said. “This Act will provide more certainty, improve the regulatory regime across the country, and will help position Canada as a global leader in sustainable, high-quality, aquaculture products.”

Jordan also assured that federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions will be respected.

“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 added.

Quick Facts

  • The 2016 Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans report: An Ocean of Opportunities: Aquaculture in Canada called for a unified legislative framework to make the aquaculture industry in Canada more competitive. As a result, the government of Canada committed to exploring opportunities to develop federal aquaculture legislation.
  • In 2018, the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) announced support for a federal Aquaculture Act “of limited scope that respects federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, and provides greater clarity to the sector.”
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada led two initial rounds of engagement in 2017-18 and in 2019. An online consultation also took place from June to December 2019 along with in-person engagement in some regions. The “What We Heard Report” contains details on these engagements.

“An Aquaculture Act will provide a nationally consistent and adaptable legislative framework, while also taking into account regional differences,” Jordan said.  “An important step in developing this legislation is engaging with our Indigenous partners, stakeholders and Canadians to hear their views.”