Pacific oysters sit ready for market at a B.C. shellfish farm. Public comment on a proposed Aquaculture Act are being accepted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada until Jan. 15, 2021. (Quinn Bender photo)

Canada’s first Aquaculture Act enters new phase of consultation

Fisheries minister promises act will respect B.C.’s jurisdiction over land management

The federal government is seeking public input on the country’s first-ever Aquaculture Act, a document both industry and government hopes will move the sector past a myriad of regulatory inconsistencies.

Oversight of the industry currently varies by province and territory. In B.C., the provincial government is responsible for land management while the federal government looks after environmental regulations in marine areas.

Ottawa classifies aquaculture as a form of agriculture, but regulates it under the Fisheries Act, which was designed to manage wild capture fisheries. This has long been a point of frustration for the aquaculture sector, which cultivates its product from an early stage of life through to harvest.

READ MORE: Metlakatla awarded $375,000 for shellfish aquaculture

“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,” said Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. “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. 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.”

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in 2016 and 2017 highlighted the need for legislative reform of the industry, and in 2019 Jordan was given the mandate to create an Aquaculture Act. This round of consultation is DFO’s third since 2017.

READ MORE: Conservation group challenges sustainable-certification claims of B.C. salmon farmer

The scope of the new act is to foster national consistency; improve clarity and certainty for the industry; enhance environmental protection; and help sustainably grow the industry for the benefit of Indigenous and rural communities.

An Aquaculture Act Discussion Paper can be found at this link on DFO’s website.

To submit comments to the Aquaculture Consultations email XMAR@dfo-mpo.gc.ca by Jan. 15, 2021.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

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