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Canadian fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc says science can be better communicated to the public in support of sustainable aquaculture. Photo: CBC
Canadian fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc says science can be better communicated to the public in support of sustainable aquaculture. Photo: CBC

Canada’s finfish and shellfish farmers have welcomed a new federal review of science-based decision-making in aquaculture. 

The country's science minister, Kirsty Duncan, has asked Canada’s chief science advisor, Dr Mona Nemer, to lead an independent expert panel to provide recommendations on the appropriate use, consideration, and communication of scientific evidence in protecting the marine environment in decision-making on aquaculture.

Timothy Kennedy:
Timothy Kennedy: "Aquaculture in Canada is leading the way with science." Photo: Twitter

“Aquaculture in Canada today is leading the way with science and the very highest environmental, food safety and social standards. Working in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, coastal communities and Canada’s Indigenous peoples, we have built a responsible and sustainable farmed seafood sector that we can all be very proud of,” Timothy Kennedy, executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) said in a press release.

“Any efforts to increase engagement with Canadians and to develop trust and understanding of the science are welcomed.

“Farmed seafood in Canada is sustainable, diverse and growing. We are playing a leadership role on environmental stewardship and creating high value middle class jobs. We are excited by the future opportunities.”

Fully available to the public

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said it employs world-class scientists who are committed to delivering the highest quality advice to support departmental decision-making.

It added that the panel will also provide advice on the communication of this science, and associated decisions, to Canadians, corresponding with the chief science advisor’s mandate to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.

Nemer will deliver a report of the expert panel to the ministers. The report will be made publicly available.

Strong, science-based regulator


Fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc said: “Our government understands that Canadians have real concerns around aquaculture. We look forward to the recommendations of the panel led by the chief science advisor on how science can be better applied to decision making and communicated to the public in support of sustainable aquaculture as we seek to remain a strong, science-based regulator of the aquaculture industry.”

According to the latest Statistics Canada data, Canadian seafood farmers produced sesafood worth Canadian $1.35 billion in 2016. Farming and processing activities generated over Canadia $5 billion in economic activity, $2 billion in GDP, and more than 25,000 full-time jobs earning an estimated $1.16 billion in wages in 2016, with significant indigenous participation.

Salmon farming is by far the most financially significant section of Canadian aquaculture, with global players Marine Harvest, Cermaq, Cooke and Grieg all invested in the country.