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FOPO Committee Report

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Government Response to the Report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
on Closed Containment Salmon Aquaculture

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada study the socio-economic impacts of a possible transition to closed containment technologies, including the resulting impacts on employment in rural and coastal communities.

Response 1

The Government supports this recommendation and agrees with the importance of considering the impact on jobs in coastal and rural areas, in addition to the availability of skilled labour and resources (low-cost land and water) in potential sites for closed containment facilities. While no pilot project has demonstrated commercial sustainable production of adult Atlantic salmon, research continues, and at some point closed containment may become economically viable. At this time, closed containment is an economically viable production methodology for high value, niche species (such as juvenile salmon, sea bream and halibut), and may become economically viable at commercial scales for adult Atlantic salmon. The Government remains technology neutral (does not favour one technology over others) in the development of policies and regulations supporting sustainable aquaculture development in Canada. Development and adoption of specific technologies is the responsibility of the sector and interested stakeholders.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada continue to work with rural, coastal and First Nations communities to encourage economic growth through the development of aquaculture operations, including the use of closed containment technologies.

The Government supports this recommendation and has made significant progress addressing this recommendation, both at Departmental levels and as part of a whole-of-government approach. At the Departmental level, from 2008 to 2013 through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program, DFO has contributed $22.5M to 164 aquaculture projects with the goal of improving productivity and competitiveness, species diversification, and green technology development. Specifically related to closed containment technology development, the department has contributed approximately $4.5M in funding across a wide spectrum of closed containment technologies on 12 projects: from improving waste management to pilot-scale demonstration facilities.

DFO has also been active in seeking better understanding of closed containment technologies. In 2008, DFO led the Canadian Science Secretariat analysis of closed containment technologies, which concluded that land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (which are one type of closed containment) offered the best technical and biological possibility of all the technologies assessed.

In 2010, DFO published a financial feasibility analysis of closed containment technologies, which concluded that recirculating aquaculture systems were marginally feasible from a financial perspective, but subject to risks outside the influence of the operator (e.g., market price of salmon, price of feed, exchange rate, etc.) that could quickly cause them to become uneconomical.

Specifically relating to Aboriginal involvement in aquaculture, DFO has recently completed the Engaging Aboriginals in Aquaculture Initiative. This initiative focused on exploring aquaculture as a means for economic development for interested Aboriginal groups, and built on extensive national consultation and engagement with these groups. Beginning in 2013, and continuing through 2016, DFO, through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative, will be leading an initiative to assist Aboriginals in pursuing economic development opportunities in the aquaculture sector. The initiative will provide capacity in the form of aboriginal aquaculture business development teams to assist Aboriginal communities in the development and execution of sound business plans and development of funding proposals.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recognizes the important contributions made by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and recommends that the Government of Canada work with SDTC to ensure that its application and reporting requirements facilitate the funding of research and development of sustainable closed containment technologies.

Response 3

The Government partially supports this recommendation and agrees with the Committee’s view and will continue to work with Sustainable Development Technology Canada, and with all funding programs and agencies that share a similar goal of technology development, and for which aquaculture is an eligible activity area. Where groups may not contribute as substantial funding partners, they will be encouraged to contribute as subject matter experts.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recognizes that any commercial adoption of closed containment aquaculture or other innovative aquaculture technologies will require public and private financial support to complete research and ultimately to allow promising new and viable technologies to advance from demonstration to commercialization. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the Government of Canada, in conjunction with industry, review the financing options to ensure that resources are available to close the commercialization gaps. The Committee further recommends that the government-industry review considers a dedicated fund for closed containment demonstration projects.

Response 4

The Government partially supports the recommendation and supports the notion of working with industry to review and identify funding options along the research-development-commercialization pathway. This would also contribute to identifying gaps that may exist.

The establishment of a fund dedicated only to closed containment technology would favour the development of closed containment at the expense of other aquaculture innovations when the Government's position is to support sustainable aquaculture development and remain technology neutral.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada develop a national policy and regulatory framework for aquaculture including an aquaculture act.

Response 5

The Government acknowledges the recommendation and is open to exploration and consideration of options on national policy and regulatory framework development, particularly with the view of streamlining the existing regulatory regime. Work is currently underway, through initiatives such as the Aquaculture Activities Regulations (formerly referred to as the Release of Aquaculture Substances Regulations), to harmonize and streamline national regulations and policies for the Canadian aquaculture sector. These activities are consistent with the Government's direction on reducing red tape and the regulatory burden for Canadian businesses.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada, supported by industry, establish a Canadian centre of excellence for salmon aquaculture development at a university to study all aspects of salmon aquaculture development, including its impact on surrounding communities.

Response 6

The Government acknowledges the Committee’s recommendation and will continue to work within existing networks and fiscal resources. Where direct financial contributions are not possible, subject matter expertise may be contributed.