Canada's Aquaculture Act | Ecology Action Centre

Canada's Aquaculture Act

For the first time ever, the Government of Canada has proposed a federal Aquaculture Act. As we have done now for the past two years of the Act’s development, we are calling again on the federal legislators to develop national standards for aquaculture operations that can hold industry and Provincial regulators to account, enhance protections for wild fish and fish habitat, and incentivize a transition away from open net-pen aquaculture in Canada.

At present, we are faced with a draft legislation that appears heavily in favour of the aquaculture industry, intended to streamline regulatory processes and provide certainty for operators.  We cannot allow for aquaculture laws that place pure profit over the protection of aquatic ecosystems. We are working with our colleagues from across the country to ensure any Aquaculture Act going forward includes the following principles.


Recommendations for a strong Aquaculture Act:

1. The purpose of the Aquaculture Act must be the effective, precautionary regulation of aquaculture to ensure the protection of wild fish, fish habitat and marine biodiversity.
2. The Aquaculture Act must promote reconciliation with Indigenous communities and self-determination for Indigenous governments, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and include requirements for free, prior and informed consent in the development of any aquaculture project.
3. The Aquaculture Act must clearly remove responsibilities for the promotion of aquaculture and its products from DFO’s mandate.
4. The Aquaculture Act must recognize the federal government’s role in protecting marine biodiversity in Canada, provide strong regulatory guidance to all jurisdictions across Canada and set national standards which all other jurisdictions must meet or exceed.
5. The Aquaculture Act must recognize federal commitments to remove open net-pens from Pacific waters, develop a transition plan for workers and incentivize the aquaculture industry toward closed containment production systems.
6. The Aquaculture Act must close gaps in Fisheries Act protections for wild fish by explicitly addressing all impacts posed by aquaculture (e.g., interbreeding, ecological interactions, sea lice, disease), as well as those resulting in alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.
7. The Aquaculture Act must establish a clear enforcement framework to detect, deter and remedy regulatory breaches. Enforcement measures should range from ‘ticketing’ offences through to mandated removal of farm stock.


The Ecology Action Centre is urging the adoption of these recommendations for an Aquaculture Act that can enhance protections for aquatic ecosystems and build a more ecologically sustainable aquaculture industry in Canada.

You can read more about our work on the Aquaculture Act at the links below or learn more about the proposed Aquaculture Act at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Aquaculture Act webpage

Related Documents and Information




2019 Submission of Comment to DFO

Our joint 2019 submission of comment on the proposed Aquaculture Act, received by DFO’s Aquaculture Management division. We’re calling for a consistent, precautionary structure focused on strong regulations and incentives away from open net-pens, as well as substantive recommendations for each proposed section of the Act.








2021 Submission of Comment to DFO

Our joint 2021 submission to Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the Aquaculture Act, reiterating our 2019 recommendations and outlining several "red lines," or bare minimum legislative components, required for our continued support of the Act's development. This document responds directly to DFO's Aquaculture Act "Discussion Paper," essentially a first draft copy of the Aquaculture Act, produced in July of 2020.







Letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

A joint January 2021 letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans outlines our disappointment with the draft Aquaculture Act to-date, heavily favouring industry at the expense of environmental protections and regulatory consistency across provinces. There appear to be few pathways by which the Aquaculture Act can actually enhance ecological outcomes for aquatic ecosystems. At this point, EAC and its partners are calling for a total redirect if the Act is to go forward. 







The Hill Times Op-ed: Federal Aquaculture Act Headed Nowhere Good

EAC Senior Marine Coordinator Shannon Arnold and Living Oceans Society Director Karen Wristen's featured op-ed in The Hill Times. This article sums up out growing concern with the Aquaculture Act's development process over the past two years, attributing the Act's initial mandate to streamline industry regulations, support aquaculture development and keep provincial jurisdiction intact in Atlantic Canada.