The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
Double aquaculture production and reap billions, Senate committee urges
September 19, 2016
St. John’s, NL – Canada needs a robust federal aquaculture act to support the sustainable growth of a $1-billion industry that is already helping to revitalize remote, rural and coastal communities.
On Monday, the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans reissued its report called An Ocean of Opportunities: Aquaculture in Canada. The report offers 10 recommendations to strengthen the environmental sustainability and economic viability of this industry while increasing public confidence.
Senators discussed their findings at the Aquaculture Canada and Cold Harvest conference in St. John’s, NL. This year’s theme — leading sustainable food production — is in harmony with the committee’s own views on aquaculture.
Aquaculture production should be doubled within the next 10 years, the committee said, provided that operators adhere to environmentally-sound practices.
Senators urged the federal government to implement legislation that would clarify its role in aquaculture and harmonize the hodgepodge of federal and provincial regulations that govern the industry today. The lack of a single, clear federal act creates obstacles to entrepreneurs attempting to start and operate aquaculture businesses.
There are other obstacles as well. Canadian aquaculture operators do not have access to the same range of pest control products as competitors in other countries. Some feed additives are also not approved for use in Canada, though there are no regulations against importing fish that have fed on these ingredients.
These restrictions put Canadian operators at a competitive disadvantage and should be revised.
The committee first released its report in June 2015, shortly before the federal election was called. Given the wisdom of expanding aquaculture in Canada, senators chose to reissue the report and give the federal government the opportunity to help Canadians and the economy.
If the federal government is willing to act, Canada could become a major player in global aquaculture production.
An ocean of opportunity awaits.
- Currently, the aquaculture industry generates $1 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) and creates the equivalent of nearly 6,000 full-time jobs.
- Doubling Canadian aquaculture within the next decade could mean a positive annual impact of $2.5 billion in GDP and the equivalent of 32,500 full-time jobs.
- Canadian aquaculture research and development is internationally recognized for its high quality; the committee recommends fostering collaborative research and development processes.
“Canada is well-positioned to help supply the growing global demand for fish and seafood — and to do so sustainably. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. Aquaculture capital is mobile so companies may look elsewhere to expand their operations, leaving Canada treading water when it has an ocean of opportunities.”
— Senator Fabian Manning, Chair of the committee
“The orderly expansion of Canadian aquaculture will be a great economic benefit. But it must be done safely and responsibly. We are recommending strong regulations that protect wild fish populations and the marine environment. A central, public database containing the licence and compliance information of each aquaculture operator would also give Canadians confidence in the industry.”
— Senator Elizabeth Hubley, Deputy Chair of the committee
“The recommendations for regulatory reform, including a national Aquaculture Act, and more science support for sustainable aquaculture are most welcomed by the Canadian aquaculture community. We are hopeful that the Committee will receive a response to these recommendations within a reasonable timeframe.”
— Cyr Couturier, President, Aquaculture Association of Canada
- Click to read a copy of the three-volume report, An Ocean of Opportunities: Aquaculture in Canada.
- The Senate is on Twitter: @SenateCA. Follow the committee using the hashtag #POFO.
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Senate of Canada