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Salmon farming. (Photo: Stock File)

Senate recommends new act to improve aquaculture

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Friday, July 31, 2015, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

A report released by a Senate Committe, intended to make recommendations for boosting aquaculture in the country, has been welcomed by seafood farmers and other stakeholders in the sector.

The three-volume report was created by the Senate Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans after 18 months' examining the regulation of aquaculture, current challenges and future prospects for the industry.

The document proposes, among other measure, the creation of a new federal Aquaculture Act, which would be the first of its kind in Canada, and calls for more research on finfish aquaculture and the impact of pesticides used on sea lice.

“We are confident that the Canadian aquaculture industry can grow steadily over the next 10 years and do so sustainably – environmentally, economically and socially,” committee chair, Fabian Manning, stated.

“We believe that a strong federal role in the regulation of aquaculture – expressed through a new piece of legislation – is necessary to improve the governance of the industry across the country and stimulate investment,” the senator remarked.

Sector sources told FIS.com that the new national strategy has been widely supported by representatives of the industry, since they feel confident that with further legislation, Canada can secure a leading position in the industry.

"Today's Senate Report is a significant endorsement of farmed seafood in Canada. We support the call for a National Aquaculture Act. The Act will recognize our seafood producers as farmers. It will also result in an open, accountable and transparent regulatory process and ensure that important environmental safeguards are in place," pointed out Ruth Salmon, Executive Director of Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA).

"It would allow Canada to emerge as a global leader in sustainable seafood farming," Salmon added.

Salmon explained that in the country aquaculture activities are carried out in every province and the Yukon, accounting for CAD 3.1 billion (USD 2.38 billion) in economic activity and employs over 15,000 workers.

“A new national federal strategy focused around a new Aquaculture Act would add an additional 17,000 jobs and over CAD 3 billion (USD 2.31 billion) in additional economic activity, creating a sustainable growth opportunity for rural and aboriginal coastal communities,” she stressed.

On the other hand, some critics of the Aquaculture Act are concerned it could lead to less protection for wild fish.

A spokesperson for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, which is opposed to the use of open-net pens in salmon farming, says the industry requires more transparency and less self-regulation.

The Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, which is also opposed to ocean-based salmon farming, says there should be more of an emphasis on land-based, closed-containment fish farming.

Rob Johnson, the centre’s sustainable seafood co-ordinator, claimed a new aquaculture act could be used to water down existing regulations in the name of clearing red tape.

“It’s going the other way and deferring to industry self-regulation [...] The priority is pushed off onto research rather than stronger regulations and enforcement that we know we need now,” he argued.

Meanwhile, insisting on the need of further legislation, Salmon explained that few jurisdictions can match Canada’s natural advantages when it comes to aquaculture — an enormous coastal geography, an abundance of cold, clean water, a favourable climate, a rich marine and fishery tradition, established trade partners and a commitment to protect our environment.
 
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