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Archived - Proposed Aquaculture Activities Regulations

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The large number of regulators and requirements faced by the aquaculture industry in Canada is cumbersome for operators and confusing for Canadians who want assurances that environmentally sustainable practices are required by law and are enforced. The Government of Canada is committed to developing aquaculture in a sustainable manner. To do so, it is moving forward with a targeted, pragmatic regulatory agenda to address key barriers to industry growth while safeguarding the environment, and eliminate duplications.

  • Regulatory Context in Canada
  • Proposed Regulations - Before and After
  • Expected Outcome of Proposed Regulations
  • Next Steps

Regulatory Context in Canada

In Canada, federal and provincial governments share jurisdiction over aquaculture. Except for British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, provincial governments are the main aquaculture regulators in Canada with jurisdiction over aquaculture licensing, the use of public lands and a system of tenure management that allows access to Crown land for aquaculture sites.

Following a British Columbia Supreme Court decision, the Government of Canada assumed responsibility in December 2010 for most aspects of the aquaculture industry in the province, including licensing sites, production volumes, species to be produced, containment, fish health, sea lice levels and waste control. The Government of British Columbia continues to issue tenures for aquaculture operations in either marine or freshwater environments, license marine plant cultivation, and manage business aspects such as work place health and safety.

In Prince Edward Island, the Government of Canada administers aquaculture authorizations as a result of an agreement between both levels of governments. All other aquaculture activities are co-managed by both governments.

The Government of Canada manages aquaculture mainly through seven separate organizations, involving ten different Acts:

Proposed Regulations - Before and After

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been working with its regulatory partners to develop the proposed Aquaculture Activities Regulations to ensure they build on existing provincial and federal regulatory regimes.

The proposed Regulations will clarify conditions under which aquaculture operators may treat their fish for disease and parasites as well as deposit organic matter under sections 35 and 36 of the Fisheries Act. As in the past, the Regulations would require that only regulated products may be used. The proposed Regulations will also impose greater public reporting from the industry as well as specific environmental monitoring and sampling requirements.

Reconciling or clarifying aquaculture-related regulations will improve coherence, simplicity and accountability. It will also increase operational certainty in the industry and investor confidence.




In general

Aquaculture operators operate under the applicable provincial or Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) authorizations, as well as with product authorizations from Health Canada's (HC) Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).
While these operations and products were all authorized under various federal and provincial laws and regulations, compliance with the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act is not clearly spelled out.

Aquaculture operators would continue to operate according to their licence’s conditions or authorization from the province or DFO, as applicable. They would continue to use only products authorized by HC and PMRA.

The Fisheries Act’s conditions would now clearly be spelled out and coherent with all other federal acts. Authorized aquaculture operators would therefore be able to operate with additional certainty about compliance with federal pollution prevention provisions.

The proposed Regulations would strengthen reporting requirements for these activities. For example, operators will have to report on an annual basis to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on the amounts of pesticides and/or drugs used, and provide assessments of alternatives to pesticide and drug use that were considered. Further, operators must report immediately to DFO on unusual fish morbidity or mortality in wild species during and after drug or pesticide treatment at aquaculture sites and start implementing regulatory mitigation measures.

There is currently no public reporting process. New public reporting will posted on the DFO website annually.


Environmental risk assessment and use of Pesticides and Drugs

Only products regulated by Health Canada under the Pest Control Products Act or the Food and Drugs Act may be used. Health Canada has a stringent evaluation process for the registration of pesticides and sets conditions for their use to ensure the protection of non-target aquatic species.

Environmental assessments of these regulated products are required.

As in the past, the proposed Regulations would require that only products regulated by Health Canada under the Pest Control Products Act or the Food and Drugs Act may be used. The same stringent evaluation process for the registration and conditions of use of pesticides continues to apply.

Health Canada’s environmental assessments of these regulated products would continue to be an integral part of the regulatory process.

The proposed regulations would set conditions to monitor impacts from aquaculture-related activities to fish habitat and also describe conditions under which samples are to be collected and analyzed for pest control products in cases of unusual morbidity or mortality.

To ensure accountability and transparency, the proposed regulations would require reporting to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of these activities on an annual basis and upon occurrences of unusual morbidity and mortality at aquaculture sites. The information would be publicly reported on the DFO website on an annual basis.


Deposit of organic matter or Biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter

Provincial aquaculture regulators, and DFO in British Columbia, already regulate through licence conditions the deposits of biochemical oxygen demanding (BOD) matter (e.g. uneaten fish food and fish wastes)

The BOD matter monitoring requirements in the proposed Regulations spell out what the industry is already doing to support provincial requirements. In British Columbia, the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations apply.

The marine finfish operators located over “soft-bottom” fish habitats would be required to monitor for potential impacts of deposit of organic matter on fish and fish habitat through the monitoring of BOD matter.


Aquaculture siting and on-going operations

Specific habitat assessments predict whether or not unacceptable habitat impacts may arise from aquaculture operations. Once siting criteria have been satisfactorily met and habitat assessments are completed, aquaculture sites are managed through licence conditions, and if necessary, authorizations under section 35 of the Fisheries Act.

Relevant jurisdictions would still complete assessments for new site application, as required by the applicable provincial and/or federal laws.

The proposed Regulations would set out conditions under which aquaculture operations are authorized under section 35 of the Fisheries Act and maintains aquaculture operators’ obligation to comply with Species at Risk Act. Siting criteria would still be used to mitigate against threats to species listed in the Species at Risk Act and/or to protect critical habitat.

The proposed Regulations would also provide for the use of other measures to ensure farmed animals’ health, such as the mechanical removal of organisms from aquaculture equipment (for example, through power washing).


Role of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has the responsibility to administer Health of Animals Act.

The proposed Regulations would allow the CFIA to conduct its mandate without contravening section 36 of the Fisheries Act when performing activities such as killing fish to control diseases and pests.

Expected Outcome of Proposed Regulations

The Government of Canada is committed to continue improving Canada’s already strong regulatory system – one of the most rigorous in the world – to ensure that the aquaculture industry is safe, healthy and ensures the sustainable use of marine resources.

Next Steps

Canadians are invited to comment on the proposed Aquaculture Activities Regulations until October 22, 2014. To help you provide comments, you can consult the following complementary documents:

All comments received during the 60-day pre-publication period on the proposed regulations will be considered before policy directions are finalized and revisions, if needed, to the regulations are made. Once finalized, the Minister’s approval of the regulations will be sought. Once approved, the regulations will be registered by the Privy Council Office then published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The next steps in the agenda will include a number of regulatory initiatives such as amendments to the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations. These will establish a licence fee schedule and provide for annual payment installments for multi-year aquaculture licences.

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