HALIFAX—An environmental group says Nova Scotia’s new aquaculture rules are “far below expectations” after releasing an analysis Wednesday of the regulations affecting fish farms.
The Ecology Action Centre wants a moratorium on new fish farms to continue until the regulations are improved.
The organization says its review of the regulations finds they fall short of the recommendations in a 2014 report prepared by Dalhousie University legal experts Meinhard Doelle and Bill Lahey on the $60-million industry.
“We’ve concluded that the new regulations omit critical aspects of the Doelle-Lahey report’s recommendations and frankly, falls far below expectations of regulatory excellence,” said Susanna Fuller, marine co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, in a news release.
In October, Nova Scotia’s Liberal government released new rules for fish farms and created an agency to regulate the approval of new licenses.
The rules create an independent Aquaculture Review Board and also provide the industry with a fresh set of regulations to follow when they expand or transfer ownership.
The new regulations also introduce mandatory reporting of any fish diseases.
The Ecology Action Centre says one of the most important parts of the Doelle-Lahey report was to establish zones where aquaculture could and couldn’t exist, but the government’s new rules are limited in addressing those recommendations.
Wild salmon rivers and environmentally sensitive areas should be off limits or labelled as “red zones,” the report says.
“This is completely missing from the new government regulations and instead the power is given to the minister to designate large areas of our coast as approved ‘Aquaculture Development Areas’—basically creating green zones but there are no corresponding red or no-go zones,” said Fuller.
The group also says the new regulations set no clear parameters or minimum standards when determining where fish farms can be located.
“There are no such protections for these important values in the new government regulations,” said Raymond Plourde, wilderness co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre.
“Our entire coastline is still wide open to industrial scale fish farms.”