[HALIFAX] — The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), in partnership with the Canadian Aquaculture Institute (CAI), today released its latest report on Canada’s aquaculture industry. Canadian Aquaculture: Drowning in Regulation argues that the current federal-provincial regulatory environment for aquaculture is dysfunctional and that fundamental institutional change is therefore required if this potentially vibrant and growing industry is to achieve its full potential in Canada.

The Canadian aquaculture regulatory environment is subject to a complex of institutions, guidelines, and injunctions. The resulting hurdles to aquaculture businesses span transnational organizations, conventions, and accords; federal and provincial government agencies and legislation; and a number of miscellaneous organizations and associations. In short, there has been no serious attempt to date to establish the true balance between the social costs and benefits associated with this industry; yet in the absence of such a cost-benefit analysis, there is no sound basis for the current thicket of regulation surrounding the industry.

Among the serious regulatory shortcomings examined in this paper are:

Unexplained administrative blocks preventing industry access to new sites for expansion and to new sources of wild fish for feed and breeding purposes;
The policy of the lead regulatory agency, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, with respect to fish habitat is both unclear in general and has taken no account of the emerging needs of the aquaculture industry in particular;
The conflicts and contradictions among the federal and provincial regulations dealing with aquaculture.
A key conclusion of the paper is that the private property rights necessary for efficient development of Canadian aquaculture are not in place, and that untoward costs and regulations hobble the industry. In addition, vested interest in traditional fisheries holds considerable sway over the regulatory environment also to the detriment of aquaculture. But perhaps one of the most basic reasons for the aquaculture industry’s problems is that regulators have a difficult time thinking in terms of private property with respect to the resource — the fish themselves, as well as the water in which they are raised.

The authors of Drowning in Regulation, AIMS’ Board of Research Advisors’ Chairman Robin F. Neill, and award-winning aquaculturalist Mr. Brian Rogers, suggest that we seek inspiration from the experience of other jurisdictions – such as the United States, Australia, and Norway – where aquaculture is considered to be an industry to be developed, not obstructed, and where aquaculture-specific legislature exists.

While it is understood that aquaculture is a relatively new industry, and some time lag in the development of new regulations is to be expected, one conclusion can certainly be drawn from this report – fundamental institutional change is required in the regulatory environment of Canadian aquaculture, or this country will not enjoy the benefits that many of its competitors have derived from this high-tech year-round industry which is concentrated in coastal communities.

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 general 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.


For further information, contact:
Brian Lee Crowley, President, AIMS, 902-499-1998
Robin F. Neill, (902) 566-0763