Author: Robin Neil
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.