Renewal of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program 2013-2018

Description of Program, Policy or Program Proposal

Renewal of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program (SAP) from 2013 to 2018 will contribute to an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable Canadian aquaculture. The Program is designed to promote increased growth and prosperity while ensuring that is conducted in an ecologically sustainable manner and with regulatory and policy decision-making informed by sound science.

Summary of SEA Results

Aquaculture takes place in marine and freshwater ecosystems in all ten provinces and the Yukon. Aquaculture operations occur in a wide range of aquatic environments and across a diverse range of biophysical conditions. As an illustration of this diversity, Canadian aquaculturalists are currently operating in both marine and freshwater environments, in land-based facilities or in cages within the oceans, Great Lakes or inland waters. Biophysical conditions such as tides, winds, water quality, depth and seasons are highly variable between production sites. In addition, several different species of fishes, shellfishes and plants are cultured in Canada and each has unique life histories that must be taken into account during their production.

As is the case with all food production, the use of aquatic resources for aquaculture production has some environmental impacts that may be either prevented or mitigated using best practices for regulatory management and continuous operational improvements. In general, expanded aquaculture production, productivity, and diversification may increase the potential for adverse environmental effects; however, operators’ compliance with new and improved environmental sustainability standards developed through SAP’s Aquaculture Regulatory Reform (i.e., under the Fisheries Act) will improve the sector’s sustainability performance. Public information on this performance will be provided through SAP’s renewed commitment to aquaculture public reporting. This reporting will provide Canadians with information on the sector’s compliance with regulatory measures as well as its economic growth.  In addition to sustainability improvements met through compliance with Fisheries Act regulations, the sector continues to make substantial progress in its environmental performance through a wide range of measures, such as decreased use of drug and pest control products and fewer breaches of containment.

SAP renewal will further support these sustainability improvements through continued scientific research. The renewed Program would also expand on current and develop new partnerships with provinces, academia, environmental groups, and industry members in a manner that fosters shared solutions to the sustainability challenges inherent in the increased economic growth in the sector.

Some indirect benefits from SAP renewal include: an improved regulatory framework under the Fisheries Act that is more coherent and efficient within the range of shared jurisdiction for aquaculture with other federal departments, provinces and territories; increased engagements of First Nations and Aboriginal groups; and, greater transparency on the regulatory management of aquaculture under the Fisheries Act through public reporting.

Linkages to the Goals of the Federal Sustainability Development Strategy

SAP will support Theme III "Protecting Nature and Canadians", Goal 5 "Biological Resources" , by helping to promote the conservation and optimum use of marine resource and the aquatic environment through improved aquaculture management.

Mitigation Measures

The renewed SAP would implement numerous mitigation measures to reduce the likelihood and severity of adverse environmental effects of farm fish and shellfish operations. A critical component of mitigation is promoting compliance with an existing wide range of current and new environmental regulations and standards required by regulations under the Fisheries Act. Combined, these regulations require the evaluation and mitigation of significant environmental concerns before aquaculture activities can take place. This Program will further strengthen federal and provincial regulatory regimes to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency in the governance of the aquaculture sector.