Feds support responsible aquaculture

Letters to the Editor (The Cape Breton Post)

Our government firmly believes that aquaculture can create much-needed jobs in coastal, rural and aboriginal communities. It is a growing industry that represents billions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs for Canadian families.

However, let me be clear that we want this industry to grow in a manner that does not compromise our pristine marine environment or traditional fisheries. This is the key to responsible aquaculture development.

I wish to clarify the nature of DFO's proposed aquaculture activities regulations. I must emphasize that the proposed changes aim to provide more clarity for operators to ensure greater compliance and transparency by imposing three new conditions:

First, aquaculture operators would have to provide written reports of alternatives to pesticide and drug use that were considered before using any of these regulated products.

Second, they would have to have mitigation measures in place to minimize potential negative impacts on wild fish species and their habitat.

Third, they would have to report these activities to DFO on a yearly basis. The department would then make the overall data publicly available annually.

For the first time ever, the federal government will regulate not only the farm operations, but also the effect they have on the ocean bottom. Aquaculture operators would continue to use only stringently evaluated products authorized by Health Canada’s Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency. Any suggestions otherwise are completely false.

Additionally, these changes have been supported by the renewal of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program, which represents a $54-million investment for science, improved public reporting and regulatory work.

As always, the Canadian government invited Canadians to comment on the proposed regulations in order to ensure that all opinions were heard and considered. Consultations across the country were also held.

We are firmly committed to maintaining this ongoing dialogue, and remain open to constructive comments.

Canada already has one of the most rigorous aquaculture regulatory systems in the world, and our government is committed to continue to improve it, in the name of the 14,000 Canadians already employed by this industry, as well as all those who could eventually be employed by this industry.

Gail Shea, Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada