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e-2512 (Fisheries)

Initiated by Laurie Scott from Rose Bay, Nova Scotia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • The Province of Nova Scotia has invited multinational companies to scope out and develop expansive open net pen salmon farming operations (Industrial Feedlots) in Coastal Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy;
  • This expansion will result in environmental degradation as seen in similar aquaculture operations in British Columbia, Newfoundland, Norway, Vietnam and elsewhere in the world;
  • It will pose risks to native fish stocks, pollute coastal ecosystems, imperil ‘at risk’ wild Atlantic salmon and threaten established fisheries and tourism operations.
  • Open pen fish farming will not create significant employment and will undermine existing lobster and other coastal fisheries;
  • These industries employ thousands of Nova Scotians and are valued at over $1 billion annually;
  • Their income and success stays in our province and is not funneled out of the country by foreign owned companies; and
  • Concerns include that the health of protected wild salmon will be imperiled by farmed salmon, the environmental degradation of the benthic environment from antibiotics, pesticides and feces, increased hazard to navigation and risk of marine entanglement, damage to our Nova Scotia brand, and loss of revenue in housing tax base with industrialization of pristine coastline.
We, the undersigned, residents of Nova Scotia and Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Uphold Bill C-68 and the ¨species at risk¨ legislation, and protect our oceans;
2. Ban expansion of open net fin fish aquaculture in our oceans and work to phase out any existing open net operations currently in place; and
3. Invest in land based, closed containment fin fish aquaculture.

Response by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Bernadette Jordan

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production activity in the world, and a growing sector in Canada. In 2015, the aquaculture industry generated over $1 billion in gross domestic product, generating close to $3 billion in total economic activity. The Canadian aquaculture sector is a key employer in many coastal/rural/remote communities. Often, other employment opportunities in these communities are limited. More than 40 Indigenous communities operate directly, or are involved indirectly, with many farmed seafood facilities in Canada. Nova Scotia is the fifth largest employer in the Canadian aquaculture sector and offers the fourth highest annual average income. The province farmed approximately 10,118 tonnes of seafood in 2018 (mainly salmon and mussels) valued at over $88.6 million.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring aquaculture activities are undertaken in a manner that is environmentally responsible, sustainable, and protects wild salmon and other key fish stocks along Canada’s coasts. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) works closely with Indigenous peoples, provincial and territorial partners, stakeholders, and industry to create and maintain an effective and responsible regulatory framework for aquaculture in Canada.

Scientific excellence is fundamental to DFO and the mandate entrusted to it by Canadians. It supports the Department’s regulatory functions, decision-making, enforcement of the Oceans Act and Fisheries Act, national leadership on oceans and aquatic ecosystems, and much more. Scientific evidence informs management decisions that ensure an environmentally sustainable aquaculture industry. 

Aquaculture in Canada is jointly managed among federal, provincial, and territorial governments and its activities are regulated under a number of acts, regulations, and programs related to environmental management and shared use of aquatic resources. DFO is the principal regulator in British Columbia (B.C.) and co-manages aquaculture in Prince Edward Island with the provincial government. In all other province, including Nova Scotia, the provincial governments are the lead regulators of aquaculture management and development and are responsible for leasing and licencing aquaculture activities.

The Government is committed to ensuring the conservation and protection of Canada’s marine and freshwater ecosystems. As you are aware, the modernized Fisheries Act restores protections, and enhances protection of the marine environment and habitat restoration. The modernized Act includes protection for all fish and fish habitat, and the restoration of the previous prohibition against “harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat”. Under subsection 34.1(1) of the Act, the Minister must consider a number of factors before recommending regulations or exercising powers related to authorization, permits, and orders. These include the contribution to the productivity of relevant fisheries, fisheries management objectives, cumulative effects, fish habitat banks, prioritizing habitat restoration, and Indigenous knowledge provided to the Minister.

DFO’s Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program is working to develop policy and guidance to implement these requirements, as well as a number of other tools to help address risks to the aquatic environment. DFO hopes to be in a position to engage Indigenous groups, stakeholders, partners, and Canadians more broadly in their development as soon as possible once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and the Department can resume external engagement and consultations.

To deliver on its promise to implement the modernized Fisheries Act, the Government has invested $284 million over five years, which includes the $50 million Indigenous Habitat Participation Program (IHPP), providing grants and contributions funding to Indigenous communities to allow them to participate in the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat.

These are just some of the regulations, measures, and decisions which are informed by scientific evidence, that are in place to maintain healthy and sustainable aquatic ecosystems to support environmentally, economically, and socially strong fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Canada.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has been mandated by the Prime Minister to work with the Province of B.C. and Indigenous communities to create a responsible way forward by 2025 to transition open net-pen aquaculture in B.C. Close collaboration with the Province and Indigenous communities will be critical in ensuring that the path forward is workable, economically feasible, and considers social aspects.

The analysis to inform the path forward will build upon existing efforts, such as the State of Salmon Aquaculture Technologies study, which was commissioned by DFO, Sustainable Development and Technology Canada, and the Province of B.C. in 2019. Additionally, as announced on June 4, 2019, DFO’s Indigenous and multi-stakeholder advisory body’s alternative production technologies technical working group will make recommendations, which are expected shortly, for next steps on how to encourage the development and implementation of emerging technologies, such as land-based closed containment. DFO is also expecting recommendations from the two other working groups – the marine finfish and land-based fish health and area based management technical working groups. Departmental officials will build upon this work to inform the creation of a responsible plan for B.C. 

The path forward will include consultations and engagements with the public, environmental organizations, industry, and our provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners to ensure that aquaculture is done in the most environmentally sustainable and economically viable way that strives to maximize benefit for Canadians and Canadian businesses while minimizing environmental impacts.   


Open for signature
April 6, 2020, at 10:29 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 6, 2020, at 10:29 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni)
May 12, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00182)
Government response tabled
July 20, 2020
Photo - Gord Johns
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia