Government is seeing the aquaculture industry respond positively to new regulations brought in a year ago with more than 50 licence renewals processed under the new rules so far.
The ongoing interest in the sector and improved regulations are expected to lead to job creation across the province.
Since adopting the new regulations last October, the department has posted public notice of renewals on its website at http://www.novascotia.ca/fish/aquaculture and comments have been accepted as part of the new process.
Right now, Fisheries and Aquaculture is accepting new applications for leases and licences for ocean-based cultivated marine plants, certain types of shellfish and trout farming. Final evaluation of those proposals will be carried out by an independent aquaculture review board that will be appointed later this year and will hold public hearings before making its decisions.
“With our robust approach to regulating aquaculture we’re creating the conditions that will allow further industry investment and increased job opportunities for our coastal and rural communities,” said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell. “Industry said they needed clear, consistent rules to follow and we delivered on that a year ago with one of the best sets of regulations in the world.”
Aquaculture is worth about $60 million annually to the Nova Scotia economy. It supports 600 direct jobs and contributes to seafood exports, which were worth $1.68 billion.
“The aquaculture industry has been an actively engaged participant in the development of Nova Scotia’s progressive and industry-leading regulations,” said Tom Smith, executive director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia. “We believe that with this regulatory approach we are poised to realize our full potential as an economic engine for rural and coastal communities.”
Government has also provided $2 million in funding as part of its latest provincial budget to support aquaculture research looking at interactions between sites and their local environment, advanced planning for development and innovations that can support more efficient production methods.
Other steps taken over the past year include:
— tendering for equipment to help with environmental and fish health monitoring, including a submersible remote-operated vehicle
— establishing a committee chaired by the Nova Scotia Salmon Association to recommend a workable approach to trace escaped fish back to their origin
— developing policies to operationalize the lease and licence process
— appointing a chief aquatic animal health veterinarian
— participating in training for Department of Environment’s 55 conservation officers who would be responsible for enforcing new regulations. Since the training was completed, conservation officers have contacted operators to help increase awareness of the regulations
— working with the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association to establish criteria for accrediting aquatic animal health clinics
To learn about submitting an application for a new site go to http://novascotia.ca/fish/aquaculture/licensing-leasing/.
The regulations are available at http://novascotia.ca/fish/aquaculture/laws-regs/.