Ecology Action Centre Initial Reaction to Doelle-Lahey draft Aquaculture Regulatory Review Report

Report thorough and well-intentioned but the real challenge will be for the implementation of the panel’s recommendations by government

July 17, 2014

A wild salmonThe Ecology Action Centre (EAC) recognizes the depth of detail and comprehensiveness of the regulatory regime being proposed by the independent Aquaculture Regulatory Review Panel. The Doelle-Lahey report validates that the significant environmental and social problems with open net pen finfish aquaculture are real and need to be dealt with in a strong and comprehensive manner.

“Although we are very disappointed that the panel is not recommending a phase out of open net pen finfish aquaculture operations in favour of closed-containment systems as we believe that the open pen model is fundamentally flawed, we do acknowledge that if the full set of panel recommendations were adopted they would go a long way towards addressing the substantial environmental impacts and social conflict that are currently endemic to the open net-pen industry,” says Rob Johnson, Sustainable Seafood Coordinator at the centre. “In fact, we believe if this proposed regulatory regime were fully implemented, few if any of the current open net pen salmon farms in Nova Scotia would be allowed to continue to operate,” He says. “At this point they aren’t even able to meet the current, weak regulations so it is doubtful they could meet the much higher regulatory standards being proposed by the independent panel”.

The provincial government now has an opportunity to implement the recommendations and enforce a new, much more robust regulatory regime. However, the Nova Scotia government has a very poor track record of following through on similar reports and panel recommendations.

“We’ve seen it time and again,” says Wilderness Coordinator Raymond Plourde. “Independent review panels struck to deal with contentious issues, widespread public consultations held, detailed reports with strong recommendations produced, solemn commitments by government to half-measures, half-measures never fully implemented and little or no follow up in the form of monitoring, enforcement or reporting, all leading to little or no meaningful change.”

Citing the Natural Resources Strategy, the Off Highway Vehicle Action Plan and the still non-existent “world leading” Biomass Harvesting Regulations as recent examples of government failures to implement important policy commitments. “Nova Scotians expect and deserve that this time it will be different,” says Plourde.

“Nova Scotia now has an opportunity to become one of the best regulated jurisdictions in the world, should the Doelle-Lahey Panel recommendations be fully implemented,” says Marine Coordinator Susanna Fuller. “The province would benefit both economically and environmentally by ensuring the marine and coastal ecosystems are protected and that that marine environmental quality is maintained for fisheries and aquaculture operations as well as tourism and recreational fisheries.”  

The EAC believes that there are lot of good recommendations in the draft Panel Report and some areas which could use further details and/or improvements. We will be reviewing the draft document in more detail and will provide our feedback and recommendations to the Panel during their upcoming public meetings to receive feedback. We encourage all Nova Scotians with an interest in how Aquaculture is managed and regulated to also attend these meetings. Dates and locations are:

•    July 21: Yarmouth, Rodd Grand Hotel, 417 Main Street, Yarmouth
•    July 22: Tatamagouche, Tatamagouche Fire Hall, 202 Main Street, Tatamagouche
•    July 23: Baddeck, Baddeck Fire Hall, 560 Chebucto Street, Baddeck
•    July 24: Halifax, The Lord Nelson, 1515 South Park Street, Halifax

All sessions are from 6pm to 9pm.

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Click here to view the Doelle-Lahey Panel draft report

Click here to see EAC’s position statement on Aquaculture in Nova Scotia