Halifax – The aquaculture industry is an important element for coastal communities in Nova Scotia. To ensure that it’s protected and is sustainable the province has unveiled a new regulatory framework.
Sterling Belliveau, minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, explains that coast communities want the jobs that the industry brings “but not at any cost.”
“By developing strong regulations and enforcement we will help the industry grow in a way that balances economic development and environmental protection,” says Belliveau.
Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey, Dalhousie University law professors and environmental law experts, will lead the work.
An advisory committee, which will represent stakeholders and community interests including the Mi’kmaq, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council, Ecology Action Centre and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, will advise both Doelle and Lahey.
A scientific advisory committee, which is still to be assembled, will consider a full range of impacts, benefits and risks that should be addressed through regulation and will provide Doelle and Lahey with its report.
They will use a multi-phased process of public and stakeholder consultation, the first phase of which will begin this summer.
“Our members are committed to farming responsibly in Nova Scotia,” says Bruce Hancock, executive director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia.
“We believe that clearly written regulations are an important part of sustainable expansion of aquaculture in Nova Scotia and will help build public confidence in our industry.”
It is anticipated the department will receive recommendations to develop regulations by the end of 2014.
“From our vantage point, aquaculture regulations are failing to protect Nova Scotian communities and the environment and thus we welcome a comprehensive review of the regulatory system and options going forward,” says Mark Butler, Policy director at Ecology Action Centre.
“There are sustainable opportunities in aquaculture, but they must not come at the expense of the ecosystem or other marine industries.”
The development of regulations for the aquaculture industry was part of the action plan from the province’s first aquaculture strategy, released in May 2012. The aquaculture industry generates about C$50 million annually.