Canadian Manufacturing

Senate committee report could spawn aquaculture industry legislation

Industry producing one-third of Canada's seafood has relied on 150-year-old regulatory system to this point, CAIA says

OTTAWA—Canada is the world’s only major farmed seafood producing country without modern national legislation governing aquaculture, according to the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

But with a new report from the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, released July 30, all that could be about to change.

After examining the regulation of aquaculture, current challenges and future prospects for the industry, the committee is recommending the creation of a federal aquaculture act – the first of its kind in Canada.

“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, said. “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.”

In recent years, aquaculture has become virtually ubiquitous across Canada. It occurs in every province as well as the Yukon and accounts for $3.1 billion in economic activity. Employing over 15,000 workers, it generates one-third of the total value of Canada’s seafood production.

The CAIA, which applauded the senate’s findings, said a new national strategy, focused around a new aquaculture act, would add an additional 17,000 jobs and over $3 billion in additional economic activity, creating a sustainable growth opportunity for rural and aboriginal coastal communities.

“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,” Ruth Salmon, executive director of the CAIA, said.

“It would allow Canada to emerge as a global leader in sustainable seafood farming,” she added.

The CAIA noted that aquaculture is among the fastest growing food producing sectors in the world, and already accounts for nearly half the world’s seafood. With further legislation, the organization is confident Canada can secure a leading position in the industry.

“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,” Salmon said.

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