CANADA’S seafood farmers and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance have backed the country’s Senate Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans’ call for a new national Aquaculture Act.
If approved it would be the first federal act of its kind in Canada, and industry leaders say the country would emerge as a leader in responsible and sustainable best practices.
Ruth Salmon, executive director of the Aquaculture Industry Alliance, said: ‘We support the call for a national aquaculture act. The Act will recognise our seafood producers as farmers. It will also result in an open, accountable and transparent regulatory process and ensure that important environmental safeguards are in place.
‘And it would allow Canada to emerge as a global leader in sustainable seafood farming.’
Canada is the world’s only major farmed seafood producing country without modern national legislation. The current federal and provincial regulatory system is based on legislation 150 years old.
‘The regime is complex, uncertain and confusing,’ said Salmon. ‘Aquaculture, or farmed seafood, is today among the fastest food producing sectors in the world. It’s healthy and nutritious and accounts for nearly half of all the seafood in the world.
‘Few jurisdictions can match Canada’s natural advantages when it comes to aquaculture — an enormous coastal geography, an abundance of cold, clean water, a favourable climate, a rich marine and fishery tradition, established trade partners and a commitment to protect our environment.’
Aquaculture in Canada today occurs in every province and the Yukon. The Canadian fish farming industry accounts for $3.1 billion in economic activity and employs more than 15,000 workers, generating a third of the total value of Canada’s seafood production.
The alliance says a new national federal strategy focused around an aquaculture act would add an extra 17,000 jobs and over $3 billion in additional economic activity, creating a sustainable growth opportunity for rural and aboriginal coastal communities.