Dear members of the Coastal Coalition:
This is an update on the Aquaculture Regulatory Review process set up in May 2013 and begun in earnest last summer with community meetings across the province.
You will recall that the provincial government engaged Bill Lahey and Meinhard Doelle of the Marine and Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University to develop a new regulatory framework for all forms of aquaculture in the Province. A number of you have participated in this process by attending community meetings, submitting briefs and taking part in stakeholder meetings with the Panel. Aquaculture, open-pen salmon aquaculture in particular, is an issue of coastal policy and has been highly controversial in many coastal areas of the province.
The process that the Doelle-Lahey Panel set up includes an Advisory Committee of which I am a member, as well as a broader Stakeholder Roundtable to discuss issues relating to the development of this industry in our province which need to be addressed by a new regulatory framework.
Since my last update on March 14th, the Advisory Committee has met on April 4 and the Roundtable on March 20, 21 and April 10, 11. The Roundtable (of which I am also a member), discussed the list of principles and issues sent in my March 14th update and will submit its own report to the Panel. It is the Panel’s responsibility to make recommendations to the current government which will consider the advice and make the changes they deem appropriate. The Panel’s draft report to government is expected sometime in mid to late June with a final report to government in September 2014.
In addition to the Roundtable discussions, the Panel set up a roster of science experts drawn mostly from Atlantic universities, including local knowledge experts Ron Loucks and Ruth Smith (Friends of Port Mouton Bay), and Inka Milewski of the New Brunswick Conservation Council to advise on three broad areas depending on their expertise: aquaculture interactions with lobster and other commercial species, pollution impacts, and, interactions with wild salmon populations. Federal government officials did not participate except through a targeted stakeholder meeting. In addition, the Panel has met with 23 individuals/groups in targeted meetings including Friends of Port Mouton Bay, Herschel Specter, Ecology Action Centre, Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore and Coastal Communities Advocates (South Shore). Six more such meetings have been scheduled including St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance.
Where are we now?
After some difficult stakeholder Roundtable meetings a Roundtable report is being drafted by the facilitator over the next few weeks. This will be reviewed by Roundtable members and will be finalized. There were many areas for which consensus was not possible. The report will be posted to the Review website as will all the presentations to the Panel from the stakeholder meetings. Here is the link:
www.aquauculturereview.ca However, I will send out the report as soon as I am able.
Further, four public meetings will be hosted by the Panel across the province in July (locations, times to be confirmed) for the public to learn about the recommendations and react to them. There is funding available as part of the “participation support” fund for communities to organize their own meetings. East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW) is interested in helping communities understand the legal implications of the Panel’s report. You might want to wait until the Panel posts its meeting schedule before planning to organize you own meeting. I will keep you posted on this.
We have worked together to press for transparency, greater community involvement , improved site selection and pre-application marine planning , “no-go” zones for areas already used for traditional fisheries and wild salmon and conservation, and to encourage closed containment technologies.
As I mentioned in my last update, there is much in this exercise that relates to the need for coastal legislation which is being actively pursued by the Ecology Action Centre.
Please feel free to contact me at any time regarding this update or the work of the Roundtable.
Karen Traversy, Clam Bay 902-845-1093