Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia aquaculture licence processing delays continue

Aquaculture operators in Nova Scotia are keen to start up new businesses but the province appears in no hurry to begin processing new licenses.

Nova Scotia stopped accepting licence applications for open water operations in May 2013

There are several open pen fish farms around Nova Scotia, including this one operated by Cooke Aquaculture. (CBC)

Aquaculture operators in Nova Scotia are keen to start up new businesses, but the province appears to be in no hurry to begin processing new licences.

Nova Scotia stopped accepting licence applications for open water operations in May of 2013.

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia's deputy minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Kim MacNeil, told a legislature committee his department is still fine-tuning new aquaculture regulations.

He told members of public accounts committee that until those come into force, the province would not begin accepting applications again.

Keith Colwell, minister of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, said those regulations would be ready by mid-October.

MacNeil would only commit to them being ready this fall. He did acknowledge preparing the regulations has taken a long time, and said that is due to "extensive consultation."

An independent review of the regulations by Dalhousie University professors Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey took a year and a half.

Aquaculture industry keen to expand

MacNeil said the department has since spoken to more people and undertaken more reviews.

"We've also consulted with some of our neighbours down in Maine," he said.

"The minister was out to British Columbia to look at the system that they have in play there. It's quite complicated as you know. It's a controversial file and we want to make sure that we had all the information we needed in order to get the best regulations possible."

In the meantime, MacNeil said the industry was keen to expand.

"Industry has expressed interest with proceeding with more applications, with new sites," he said.

How many more depends on the regulations and what industry thinks of them, MacNeil said.

"I'm sure they'll want to see those regulations before they look a new applications that they would submit."

There are currently 291 aquaculture licences in the province.

A total of 260 are for marine sites and 31 are land based. Twenty-five of those based on land are fin fish operations, and include Atlantic salmon, trout, halibut, char and striped bass.

Four of the land-based sites involve raising shellfish, including lobster, calm, scallop, and Quahog. There's also one eel fishery and one Irish moss operation.  

When it comes to open water operations, there are 222 licences for shellfish harvesting. Thirty-eight belong to companies that raise fin fish.

But half off all licences issued are currently not being used. The department says 146 licences are inactive, which means there is no production currently tied to the approvals.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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