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Who’s in charge of Canadian aquaculture? In British Columbia, where Atlantic salmon farming brings in over $1.5 billion annually to the province’s economy, the Canadian government is the primary regulator. Provincial governments are otherwise the primary regulators in other provinces, with involvement of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in a number of aspects.  

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s new federal minister responsible for regulating the aquaculture industry, acknowledged on Wednesday the complicated regulatory framework governing the industry.

“Aquaculture in Canada is a bit complex in terms of jurisdiction across the country,” he said at the conclusion of the two-day 2018 Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) meeting, which brought together ministers with statutory responsibilities over fisheries and aquaculture in federal, provincial and territorial levels.

The push for a federal Aquaculture Act by Canada’s seafood farmers aims to simplify the framework. The ministers expressed support for and commitment to the proposal. The Aquaculture Act, they said, “gives expression of the legitimacy of aquaculture as legitimate user of the marine environment.”

“We have directed our officials to develop federal legislation that will respect federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions and provide greater parity for industry. That federal legislation will ensure Canada’s aquaculture sector is a global leader in producing quality aquaculture product in an environmentally sustainable manner.

“In taking advantage of these opportunities, we are working together to solve the challenges ahead that will make Canada respected throughout the whole world when it comes to sustainable products from the ocean,” Wilkinson, CCFAM chairman, told the press.

Part of the Aquaculture Act would be a commitment of and a recognition by all parties “that we need to have greater commonality of standards across the country; that we need to be working towards ensuring that we are enhancing transparency in terms of how things are done; and providing greater certainty to the industry that investments in different parts of the country will be done on similar terms,” he said.

Wilkinson said however that this in no way means that the federal government will usurp the regulatory authority of provinces where the provincial government is the regulator. “There’s no intention on the part of the federal government to invade jurisdiction. There are mechanisms through which we can ensure that provincial jurisdiction where the provinces are the primary regulators will continue to apply. But greater consistency in a country like Canada is good for industry and is good for ensuring environmental sustainability. And it also allows us to convene a conversation that allows us to discuss things like best practices to ensure were doing everything that we can that to grow the industry in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) welcomed the support of the ministers to advance the legislative development process for an Aquaculture Act in Canada.

“The timely development and passage of a federal Aquaculture Act is the most important and overriding need for the sustainable and competitive growth of aquaculture in Canada,” explained Timothy Kennedy, CAIA President & CEO. “There is such incredible opportunity for this young and innovative sector in Canada. This important support from Ministers is very much appreciated and will provide a fresh look at seafood farming in Canada. Canada remains the world’s only major farmed seafood producing country without modern national legislation specifically designed to govern a responsible and sustainable aquaculture industry.”

While the ministers recognized seafood farmers are already doing global best practices, there appears to be an intent to make regulations stricter under an Aquaculture Act. Kennedy welcomed them, saying: “We are already amongst the most sustainable producers in the world, and are happy to compete to be even better.”

CAIA and its member companies stand ready to collaborate with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous and non-government partners to draft and modernize federal legislation, regulations and programs keeping Canada’s seafood farming business competitive, sustainable, innovative and growing, the organization said.
The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) has announced the official launch of its National Youth Council.
Seafood company Cooke Aquaculture Inc., has won the sixth annual Private Business Growth Award.
The Canadian government is investing up to nearly $153 million, matched dollar for dollar by the private sector, in the Atlantic Canada-based Ocean Supercluster – a group of businesses, post-secondary institutions and non-profits working together to accelerate innovation and sustainable economic growth from Canada's oceans.
Global seafood company Marine Harvest has officially changed its name to MOWI. The new name is strongly rooted in the history of the company as it was originally founded as Mowi by Norwegian aquaculture pioneers more than 50 years ago, the company stated in a release.
The Government of Canada signed an agreement on Monday in partnership with Quebec’s Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government for the Listuguj First Nation-Canada Fish Framework Agreement.

The Framework Agreement outlines Listuguj's fish interests, positions parties to explore innovative fish arrangements, and reaffirms the parties' commitment to advance Listuguj's fishing rights. The agreement will also help establish a process to help strengthen a nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government.

"The Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government (LMG) recognizes that fishing is our inherent right that stems from our traditional way of life. Mi'gmaq law recognizes this inherent right,” Chief Darcy Gray of the Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government stated in a release. “As an elected government we will continue to exercise our jurisdiction over and responsibility for our fisheries as a community. Usgaqa'nminew aq ango'tesnug – our fisheries belong to us, and we will take care of it. Through this agreement, we hope that Canada can be a partner in our efforts and look forward to the work ahead."

The Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government is one of three Mi'gmaq communities of Quebec, all of which have a treaty right to hunt, fish, and gather for a "moderate livelihood," as confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada's 1999 Marshall Decision.

The agreement represents an important act of reconciliation, based on mutual respect and recognition of the rights and interests of the Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government and all Canadians.

"Being part of this achievement with our partners of the Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government is an honour. I wish all the best to the parties in their discussions to move forward on a true and strong reconciliation,” Marc Miller, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said in the release.

Listuguj consists of approximately 4,100 registered members. The community is located on the north shore of the Restigouche River in Quebec, north of the interprovincial bridge linking Quebec and New Brunswick.

Listuguj's fish interests include: enhancing their fisheries resource capacity, strengthening their fish governance institutions, developing cooperative fisheries management regimes, and improving the economic and ecological sustainability of their fisheries.

After a long planning process, a US$16.4 million renovation project has begun at the Puyallup Fish Hatchery on the Puget Sound in Washington, U.S. The hatchery dates back to 1948 and operations manager Jim Jenkins said the facility will benefit greatly from an update.
Lunenburg, N.S.-based frozen seafood company High Liner Foods has reported a loss in its third quarter 2018 results and provided details of how the company is advancing five critical initiatives designed to drive cost savings, enhance the efficiency of the business and return the company to profitable organic growth by 2020.

The key financial results indicate sales decreased by $41.5 million to $241.2 million compared to $282.7 million.

"Our disappointing third quarter financial performance reflects challenges in both the external operating environment and our internal operations, and reinforces the need for action to realign the business and drive cost efficiencies," said Rod Hepponstall, president and chief executive officer of High Liner Foods. 

Subsequent to the end of the third quarter of 2018, High Liner completed its organizational realignment, resulting in a reduction of 14 per cent of its salaried workforce. The full realignment will generate approximately $7 million in net annualized run rate cost savings, which gives the company full confidence that it will achieve in excess of the previously disclosed $10 million net annualized run rate cost savings that will be generated by executing against its five critical initiatives.  

High Liner said it expects the cost savings to be delivered within the next 12 to 15 months. There will be a one-time charge of approximately $4.5 million associated with the latest round of restructuring, $3.3 million of which will be recognized in the fourth quarter of 2018, with the remainder to be recognized in 2019.

"The good news is that demand for seafood continues to be strong and the company is well-positioned to meet this demand because of its established market position, well-known brands and seafood expertise,” Hepponstall added.

“Over the next 12 to 15 months we will focus on five critical initiatives that will ensure we have the most efficient supply chain, a simplified business with lower costs, the right talent in the right roles, a tighter integration with Rubicon, and a stronger strategic marketing platform to grow consumer demand for seafood and our value-added offerings,” he said. “We are focusing all of our attention on ensuring swift and effective execution…to stabilize the business and create optimal conditions for innovation, industry leadership and growth in support of long-term value creation for our stakeholders."

Halifax, N.S. -based seafood company Clearwater Seafoods has announced strong results in its third quarter of 2018.
The National Aquaculture Association is calling on young farmers to apply for the Mike Clark Aquaculture Farmer Leadership Program.
Maynard, Mass.-based biotechnology company AquaBounty announced its financial results for the third quarter and nine months ended Sept. 30, 2018.
The Wild Rose Fish Hatchery in Wild Rose, Wis., has developed an exhibit dedicated to the long history of the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the area.
AquaBounty Technologies says it expects to start commercial production of its AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon in early 2019.

A $1.52-million loan (C$2 million) it secured from the Province of Prince Edward Island, Canada will help it complete the construction of a 250-metric-ton production facility on its Rollo Bay site, where the GM salmon will be raised. The site includes an R&D hatchery and a broodstock facility.

“This loan should enable us to complete construction of the growout facility at Rollo Bay by the end of this year and to commence commercial production of our innovative AquAdvantage Salmon in early 2019,” said Ronald Stotish,  AquaBounty CEO. “This facility will demonstrate the superior economics that AquAdvantage brings to land-based recirculating aquaculture systems.  We are very grateful for the support we have received and continue to receive from the Province of Prince Edward Island.”

Roughly 20-30 technical jobs will be created once the facility is in operation, the company said.
China ranks first in farmed fish output thus its efforts toward aquaculture sustainability can be seen as good news for consumers around the world.

China has produced more farmed fish than the rest of the world combined since 1991. But “in recent years China aquaculture aimed for production increase to satisfy the market demand, and didn’t pay much attention on aquaculture regulating and governance, water-resources saving and environment protection,” acknowledged Dr Xinhua Yuan, a senior aquaculture officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The country’s strategies to improve efficiency and sustainability in the sector could mean a large reduction in growth for its aquaculture industry but also enhanced seafood quality for consumers.

The policy changes, laid out in its Five-Year Plan (2016 - 2020), “will enhance consumer confidence on aquaculture products from China, as more and more fish will be produced in ecological and environment friendly models,” Dr Yuan tells Aquaculture North America (ANA).

“Green” farmed fish will be offered at higher prices because of the higher costs of producing them, but “consumers are willing to pay the increased prices, because the awareness on ecological and environmental issues is improving worldwide,” he says.

While these efforts could significantly curtail the growth of China’s aquaculture industry, Dr Yuan believes these will not challenge the general fish supply in domestic and international markets. “China has huge fish production, and the adoption of new policy on greener aquaculture and new technology are carried out step by step,” he says.

Modernization, professionalization, and the emergence of intensive and semi-intensive farms made the crustacean sector the fastest growing aquaculture segment from 2010 to 2016, according to RaboResearch, citing FAO statistics.

Between 2010 and 2016, the global aquaculture industry nearly doubled its value, increasing by $100 billion. Crustaceans represented 28 percent of the total industry value growth over the period. Beyhan de Jong, Associate Analyst Animal Protein, says that shrimp has been a key driver of that growth.

“Major changes to farm design, nurseries, water processing ponds, using better genetics and many other improvements are done to prevent EMS outbreaks,” she said.

De Jong notes that while other regions have suffered from disease outbreaks, India and Ecuador became the main producers and exporters of shrimp and many farmers in those regions have shifted from extensive farming to intensive farming.

For the growth to continue, de Jong says the industry should look at digitalization, which could help reduce costs, improve real-time business and apply more strategy in supply planning, purchases and sales. It will also improve traceability, which is important to consumers. The application of next-generation genetic enhancements will help. Recirculating aquaculture systems could also become a major player in the future, she said.

Another potential issue, de Jong says, is supply and demand. The supply currently exceeds demand, and with lower prices and tight margins, it may be challenging to attract investment. However, this could be an opportunity for processors to create new products and to work on innovation and value creation.

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