Halifax – AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley will release AIMS’ major new paper on Canadian aquaculture at “Foreshore, Law and Politics” an international conference on coastal, fishery and aboriginal issues being held at the New Zealand Parliament, Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, October 4th, 2003.

Dr. Crowley will release Fencing the Last Frontier: The Case for Property Rights in Canadian Aquaculture, which was completed in partnership with the Canadian Aquaculture Institute

In the paper, UPEI economist, Robin Neill argues that because there is no comprehensive body of law dealing with the industry, producers are forced to navigate a maze of sluggish and inept bureaucracy with no restraint on government and administrative discretion.

The paper also draws a stark comparison between the property rights central to agriculture and the rules governing aquaculture, which may suit the “hunter/gatherer” nature of the wild fishery for which they were developed, but which are totally inappropriate for settled aquaculture operations. In aquaculture, the fish belong to a private citizen, but the fish farm, the productive space in which the resource is contained and raised, does not.

It is difficult to imagine agriculture existing under similar confinement and this goes a long way to explaining many of the difficult challenges aquaculture faces in establishing itself as a strong viable industry with suitable access to capital and ability to invest for the long term.

Professor Neill, Chairman of AIMS’ Board of Research Advisors, maintains that Canadian governments must establish a rational structure of private property rights along the lines of those in place for agriculture, to secure and enhance the viability of aquaculture. This is now even more critical in Atlantic Canada where the wild fishery is in serious decline.

Dr. Neill says, “the industry is effectively “owned” by government in right of the Crown and controlled by an often inept, vestigially feudal bureaucracy acting in accordance with the discretion of the minister responsible. But government cannot be expected to run the aquaculture industry efficiently. When all regulations and much of the industry’s financial support are at its discretion, government’s lack of competence determines the economic outcome.”

This is the second in a series of AIMS papers dealing with aquaculture. Series editor and AIMS President, Dr. Brian Lee Crowley, shares Dr. Neill’s concern with the obstacles facing the establishment of property rights in Canadian aquaculture, “Government tends to be ham-fisted when handling issues of efficient economic enterprise. It generally fails to enforce the common law rights of citizens, it tends to favour special interests, it’s biased by concerns of short-term economic development and by nature, leans toward administrative solutions. Understandably under these conditions, there is an urgent need for a rational structure of aquaculture property rights.”

He went on to remark, “I’m particularly delighted to be releasing our new paper here in New Zealand at this major conference on property rights in the ocean. AIMS is proud to be, and to be seen to be, at the forefront of an international effort to clarify and strengthen the property rights which must underpin any sensible and thoughtful approach to managing our coastal resources for the benefit of all.”

AIMS has long been an active voice in the discussion over the future of our aquaculture and fisheries industries. AIMS seeks to ensure that both public and private decision makers as well as the public, have a clear understanding of all the issues. To this end, AIMS has a resource page on its website (www.aims.ca) for those wishing to explore, understand and debate the issues related to fisheries and aquaculture.

Read the complete text of Fencing the Last Frontier online.

For further information, contact:

Jordi Morgan
Director of Communications and Development
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
2000 Barrington Street
Suite 1006, Cogswell Tower
Halifax, NS B3J 3K1
Direct 902 446-3532
Cell 902 452-1172
Fax 902 425-1393