Ecology Action Centre

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EAC Confirms New Aquaculture Regulations Significant Departure from Doelle-Lahey Recommendations - Calls for Continued Moratorium on New Fin Fish Farms

For Immediate Release
December 9th, 2015

K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX), The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) has taken the time to carefully review the new regulations governing aquaculture in Nova Scotia released by the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NS DFA) on October 26th and is today releasing our in-depth analysis.

The Independent Aquaculture Review Panel, chaired by Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey, whose final report was released in December 2014, set the stage for a vastly improved regulatory regime, for an industry that has been the source of significant controversy and has been plagued by disease, mass mortalities and a near total lack of social license. A close comparison of the Doelle-Lahey Report and the new government regulations reveal major gaps and significant omissions from that intended by the regulatory review, and its participants.

“We focused on the elements of the regulations that provide some protection from the known negative impacts of open net pen fish farms specifically, and we’ve concluded that the new regulations omit critical aspects of the Doelle-Lahey Report’s recommendations and frankly, falls far below expectations of regulatory excellence, “ says Marine Coordinator, Susanna Fuller. “One of the most important recommendations, in our view, was the establishment of zones – red, yellow and green – that would, at the outset determine where certain type of aquaculture would and would not take place. This is completely missing from the new government regulations and instead the power is given to the minister to designate large areas of our coast as approved “Aquaculture Development Areas” – basically creating green zones but there are no corresponding red or no-go zones.” This designation is also counter to the Doelle-Lahey report recommendations which called for less ministerial discretion over aquaculture siting decisions, not more.
 
The government’s new aquaculture regulations include issues that must be “considered” when determining if aquaculture can take place, but sets no clear parameters or minimum standards.

“The new regulations may be an improvement over what we had before, but this really is a case where the glass is still half empty,” says Wilderness Coordinator Raymond Plourde. “The Doelle-Lahey Report made it crystal clear that there are many places in Nova Scotia where fin-fish aquaculture is not suitable. The Report specifically called for clear physical separation of fish farms from wild salmon rivers and areas that are either biophysically unsuitable or where pre-existing social or economic interests exist. There are no such protections for these important values in the new government regulations. Our entire coastline is still wide open to industrial scale fish farms. “

It is our contention that a moratorium on new marine fin fish farms should remain in place until such time as the regulations can be amended to fill the critical missing elements from the Doelle-Lahey Report. That report was very clear that lifting the fin fish moratorium was conditional on implementing the whole of the Regulatory framework as noted:

“It is critical that we stress the following point: our conclusion that we should not recommend a permanent moratorium assumes the adoption and effective implementation of the regulatory framework we have outlined in this report.” (Doelle-Lahey Report, Pg. 16)

Click here for EAC’s full analysis.

For more information contact:

Raymond Plourde, Ecology Action Centre Wilderness Coordinator
e. wilderness@ecologyaction.ca c. 902-478-5400

Susanna Fuller, Ecology Action Centre Marine Coordinator
e. marine@ecologyaction.ca c. 902-483-5033

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