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Nova Scotia, Canada, Launched a Public Consultation on Aquaculture Regulations

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The Government of Nova Scotia, Canada, launched some days ago a Public Consultation on Aquaculture Regulations. The consultation is open to September 6, and people can provide feedback through an online survey with six open-ended questions. A public input guide with an overview of aquaculture in Nova Scotia and a summary of the current regulatory framework is also available.

The Public Consultation is a comprehensive review of existing aquaculture regulations. Following a jurisdictional review and stakeholder consultations, government is seeking input from Nova Scotians through a public consultation survey.

“The review process is led by the Aquaculture Regulatory Advisory Committee, which is made up of members from the community, First Nations, industry, and provincial and municipal government.”

The committee will consider findings from the review process, including the public consultation survey, and make recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

“No need to be and expert”

“Since December, we’ve met with community stakeholders, industry representatives and public sector partners to understand their perspectives and hear their thoughts on how we could improve our aquaculture regulations. And now, we want to hear from Nova Scotians,” said Steve Craig, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

You don’t need 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 pointed out.

“The consultation includes meetings with stakeholders are ongoing, as is engagement with Mi’kmaq communities and municipalities.”

The current aquaculture regulations of Nova Scotia, developed following an 18-month independent review, have been in place since 2015. The regulations reflect best practices of experienced aquaculture regions around the world and recommendations from the province’s auditor general at the time.

Stakeholder feedback and public input

The Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulatory Advisory Committee is directing the regulatory review. Terrance Paul, Chief and CEO of Membertou First Nation, and April Howe, Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, are co-chairs of the committee, which includes representatives from the aquaculture and fisheries industries, municipalities, First Nations, environmental groups and other community stakeholders.

The committee will consider stakeholder feedback and public input in making recommendations to the Minister on how the regulations may be improved.

“The right time to step back”

“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. 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,” said Terrance Paul, Co-Chair, Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulatory Advisory Committee.

“Is useful to know that the 2013-14 independent review was led by environmental law experts Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey, and the advisory committee hired a third-party consultant, Davis Pier, to lead stakeholder engagement during the review.”

The review showed that there are 235 marine and land-based aquaculture sites in Nova Scotia. Also, the industry employs nearly 900 people and contributes CAD 90 million per year to the provincial economy.

AANS presented its own public opinion survey

At the start of the 2022, the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia (AANS) presented their own public opinion polling, that suggested that Nova Scotians consider aquaculture as a sector that positively impacts the economy, employment, and sustainability of a local food source.

“The AANS worked with Narrative Research on the public opinion polling in November and December 2021.”

This polling shows the need to make Nova Scotians aware of just how well this industry is governed and that it is full of opportunities for the whole province,” said Tom Smith, Executive Director of the AANS.

“Seafood farming needs to continue to expand if we want to realize our full potential. That includes finding new ways to work with our members and the public to build awareness of, and confidence in, how local seafood is grown in Nova Scotia,” he added.

According to the AANS, the polling was conducted during a time when awareness around aquaculture was heightened, as the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Review Board (ARB) conducted its first finfish hearing in November.

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