Aquaculture hearing report from Yarmouth

by: John Sollows, TREPA, Executive Director

The government has appointed an independent panel of Dalhousie law professors Meinhard Doelle and Bill Lahey to propose an aquaculture regulatory framework for Nova Scotia. As a first step, the co-chairs have split and are conducting a series of public community meetings around the province. Meinhard did ours.

In Yarmouth, two sessions were held at the Grand Hotel on July 30, 2013, at 2:30 to 4:30 P.M. and 6:30 to 7:30 P.M. About 30 attended the afternoon session, including TREPA Board members Mil, Roy, and Margrit. There were about 15 at the evening session. Only Bruce Hancock (Aquaculture Association of NS) and I were at both.

I presented TREPA’s position (see below) and did not take notes. Personal impressions, recollections and conclusions follow.

There was a healthy diversity of views at both sessions, presented in an atmosphere of respectful listening.

Mike Raynard and Mr. D’Entremont (first name forgotten) raised instances of sustainable cage fish culture (including the early years of the Port Mouton operation, when trout were raised). A number of people pointed out to the importance of aquaculture to the economy.

There seemed to be consensus that aquaculture had to be sustainable. The need for us to use ears got reinforced, as did the need for aquaculturists, fishers, and other stakeholders to work together.

We are encouraged to continue to communicate at the panel. Go to, go to the site map, then contact us for Meinhard’s and Bill’s e-mails.

TREPA Comments on Aquaculture Regulatory Framework

The Current policy of the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association follows:
TREPA supports shellfish aquaculture and sustainable, regulated on-land fin-fish farming but does not support open-net fin-fish farming.


TREPA supports aquaculture as long as it is practiced in a sustainable manner. We consider sustainable aquaculture any system which does not deplete nor pollute common property resources. Our concept of “Common property resources” includes the environment needed to maintain resources of economic value.

Cage fish culture in our part of the world is currently restricted to megafarms of carnivorous species, with great capacity to pollute, and to impose demands on scarce natural resources. , Hence we do not support cage culture as presently practised here.

Land-based finfish culture requires regulation to assure that such operations do not pollute, through containment, recirculation, composting, or absorption. Advice on and assessments of such waste management systems should be made by qualified professionals who are not employed by the proponent.

We further would like to see Aquaculture addressed as a specific topic in the developing Coastal Strategy document.

Every approved aquaculture operation at every site should begin on a pilot scale, and expand gradually, if expansion seems appropriate. As a point of departure for discussion, we suggest doubling as the maximum prudent level of expansion from year to year, with two to three years allowed between expansions to determine the presence or absence of adverse effects.

Industrial-level agriculture and aquaculture should be explicitly listed as undertakings under the Environment Act, as industrial facilities subject to environmental assessments.

As a point of departure for discussion, “Industrial aquaculture” operations could be defined as those in which the farmed commodity is actively fed, and (a) if on land, the farm and contiguous operations of a similarly intense nature exceed 2 ha. in area or if the farm and those of a similarly intense nature exceed 1% of the catchment area it/they occupies/occupy, and (b) if on water, the operation and contiguous ones of a similarly intense nature exceed 2 ha. in area or the operation and those of a similarly intense nature exceed 1% of the area of the lake or embayment they occupy. “Similarly intense” means an aquaculture operation where the cultured commodity is actively fed. Two farms on land would be judged “contiguous” if they are separated by less than 100 m. Two farms in the water would be judged “contiguous” if they are separated by less than 500 m.

The undesirable effects of cage systems can be mitigated by siting in water with sufficient depth and circulation and by allowing for sufficient fallowing between growing periods. We recommend against cage culture, but should this recommendation prove futile, regulations on rate of expansion, siting, and growing and fallowing periods must be developed.

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