Sustainable Aquaculture Program, 2008-2013

In 2008, the Government of Canada provided $70 million for a five-year Sustainable Aquaculture Program to enhance the sustainable development of Canada’s aquaculture industry. The Program consisted of four interrelated areas of work through which Fisheries and Oceans Canada was able to strengthen regulatory reform and governance, broaden aquaculture science research, advance sustainability reporting, and develop a Canadian approach to certification and traceability. Innovation across the sector was also supported through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program. There were many significant results and achievements:

Governance and Regulatory Reform

Federal, provincial and territorial aquaculture regulations and policies were streamlined with regards to environmental aspects of farm-site review processes, ongoing regulatory management, and regulatory amendments. A regulatory risk-management framework, new policies, and tools to guide and set parameters for the industry were also developed. These changes resulted in improved regulatory management for the sector’s sustainability, reduced regulatory burden on companies, and increased investor, market and public confidence in the environmental performance of the sector.

Regulatory Science

The Program for Aquaculture Regulatory Research (PARR) funded high-priority aquaculture regulatory research undertaken by departmental researchers. The knowledge derived from this research supported federal, provincial and territorial requirements associated with the development of the framework for aquaculture environmental management. This funding also increased the development of science advice through peer-reviewed workshops and papers (such as the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) process) and through other science workshops that informed aquaculture regulatory management, policy development and decision making.


Investments made across Canada through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program (AIMAP) assisted the industry in continuous development and adoption of innovative technologies and management techniques to enhance its global competitiveness and environmental performance. Over the five years of the program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada contributed $23.2 million to 163 projects for a total project value of $ 113.1 million.

Certification and Market Access

Under the Aquaculture Sustainability Reporting Initiative (ASRI), Fisheries and Oceans Canada worked in collaboration with federal partners, provincial governments, industry, non-governmental organizations, and others to document conditions and trends in Canada’s aquaculture sector to produce a report that documented conditions and trends: Aquaculture in Canada 2012: A Report on Aquaculture Sustainability.

An approach to certification and market access was also developed to support the Canadian aquaculture sector to be in line with the broader fish, seafood and agriculture sectors, international markets, and competitor trends. As a result of the Program, industry and governments became more aware of the need to demonstrate sustainability through third-party certification and traceability, and companies were well positioned to take part in these initiatives.

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