Minister of State John Duncan

MPs seeking aquaculture feedback

New regulations will aim to increase production at the same time as protecting environment.

Public consultation related to proposed Fisheries and Oceans Canada aquaculture regulations has begun.

Minister of State John Duncan was in Nanaimo Tuesday for a roundtable with aquaculture stakeholders and to mark the start of information sessions on the Aquaculture Activities Regulations proposal, which the fisheries department hopes increases sustainable aquaculture production in the country while protecting the environment.

Duncan said the stakeholders, which consisted of First Nations and shellfish and salmon farming representatives, stated that the shellfish sector in the Pacific region has had negative one-per cent growth in the last 13 years, while the salmon farming sector has “essentially flatlined.”

Regulatory burden was pointed to as a hindrance, he said.

“Currently, the aquaculture sector is regulated by 10 different federal acts … the Government of Canada is undertaking regulatory reform to streamline and simplify the current regulatory regime and ensure that it operates in an environmentally sustainable manner,” Duncan said, adding that the first step was the pre-publication of the proposal online.

In terms of the environment, the proposed regulations would add three new conditions to existing rules.

Aquaculture operators would have to provide written reports detailing alternatives before using regulated pesticides or drugs. Mitigation would have to be in place to minimize harm to wild fish and their habitat.

He said aquaculture currently contributes $2 billion to the country’s economy and there are opportunities to “tap into global demand” as there were new trade agreements with the European Union and South Korea.

People can provide feedback until Oct. 22. For more information, please go to www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/ and follow the links.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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