Nova Scotia invites residents to share their opinion on the province’s aquaculture regulations

Salmon aquaculture cages in St. Marys Bay in Digby, Nova Scotia. Photo: Adobe Stock
Salmon aquaculture cages in St. Marys Bay in Digby, Nova Scotia. Photo: Adobe Stock

After previously meeting with various stakeholders, the government of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia is now inviting all Nova Scotians to share their opinion on the province's aquaculture regulations. Steve Craig, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, stressed that it's not necessary to be an expert to be part of this process. "If you live in this province and have an interest in its future, we'd love to hear from you", he said. The public consultation, which opened yesterday, will be active for four weeks.

Public consultation

Figures provided by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture attest to the importance of the sector in the Canadian province. Nova Scotia has 235 marine and land-based aquaculture sites and employs nearly 900 people, contributing $90 million annually to the provincial economy. This is recognized by Nova Scotians who, in a previous survey, already acknowledged the positive impact of the aquaculture industry on the economy, employment, and sustainability of this local food source. That's probably why the government is so keen on citizen participation. "Since December, we have been meeting with community stakeholders, industry representatives and public sector partners to understand their perspectives and hear their views on how we might improve our aquaculture regulations. And now we want to hear from Nova Scotians", said Steve Craig, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The public consultation opened yesterday, August 9, and will remain active until September 6. During those four weeks, people will be able to provide feedback through an online survey that includes six open-ended questions. In addition, a public input guide with an overview of aquaculture in Nova Scotia and a summary of the current regulatory framework is also available. Both the survey and the guide can be found by following this link . A summary of the input will be published after the engagement period.

The current aquaculture regulations, in effect since 2015, were developed following an 18-month independent review and reflect best practices from aquaculture regions experienced around the world and the recommendations of the Province's Auditor General at the time. That previous review was conducted by environmental law experts Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey between 2013 and 2014. The Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulatory Advisory Committee directing the current regulatory review has also hired a third-party consultant, Davis Pier, to lead stakeholder engagement during the process.

Time to listen to different points of view

Stakeholder meetings are ongoing, as is engagement with Mi'kmaq communities and municipalities. The Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulatory Advisory Committee includes representatives from the aquaculture and fishing industries, municipalities, First Nations, environmental groups, and other community stakeholders. Terrance Paul, chief and executive director of Membertou First Nation, and April Howe, deputy minister of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, are co-chairs.

"A commitment to continuous improvement means taking the time to reflect on our priorities, learn from lived experience, listen to differing viewpoints, and understand what's most important to the people in our communities", said Chief Terrance Paul, Co-Chair, Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulatory Advisory Committee. "This is the right time to step back and do that with our aquaculture regulations. If there are opportunities to improve on the framework in place today, this review will help us identify them", he added.

After all the meetings and the public consultation survey, the committee will take into account both stakeholder comments and public input to make recommendations to the Minister on how the regulations can be improved. Any legislative or regulatory changes arising from the process will be known from 2023 to 2024.

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