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Nova Scotia revamps aquaculture licensing, application process

March 22, 2023  By  Nestor Arellano

(Image: novascotia.ca)

Greater public participation in the aquaculture application process and other changes to Nova Scotia’s fisheries industry are on the way. This was the message from the Canadian province’s government following an independent review of Nova Scotia’s aquaculture regulations.

In 2022, the provincial government launched a public consultation to review the province’s aquaculture regime. Results of the consultation were published in a report, titled Regulatory Review: What We Heard Summary Report.  The committee made 17 recommendations for improvements.

There are 235 marine and land-based aquaculture sites in Nova Scotia. The province’s aquaculture industry employs about 900 people and contributes C$80 million (US$58.6 million) annually to Nova Scotia’s economy.


The committee’s recommendations focused on three themes:

  • applying the right level of regulation to both small and large operations
  • sharing more information and making it easier to find and understand for better transparency
  • creating more opportunity for public participation in the application process for licenses.

“Our aim is to support low-impact, sustainable growth in Nova Scotia’s aquaculture industry,” said Steve Craig, Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “These recommendations are the result of extensive consultation and will guide us in making improvements.”

Davis Pier Consulting, which carried out the consultation and prepared the recommendations, found that the lack of inclusion and meaningful engagement of the public “is a key contributor to the misinformation, mistrust, and reduced confidence, and ultimately barriers to social license.”

The consulting firm also found that lag-time in decision making processes and the licensing process has become a problem.

The firm also found a lack of consistency in monitoring of operators and that “some and are held to a different standard across the sector,” according to Davis Pier Consulting. “The time it takes to attain a license or lease is not tenable for some small operators. It can take years to get a lease/license, and years to produce product for market.”

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