In March, the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture released reports following surveys looking at the province’s aquaculture regulatory framework – a final report with recommendations as well as a “What We Heard Summary Report” dealing specifically with survey responses. The reports follow a period of engagement with the public and stakeholders to collect their input about the province’s aquaculture regulations and to identify ways to improve them. The survey and report were conducted by Davis Pier Consulting, following the Doelle-Lahey Panel’s recommendation that the department conduct a regulatory review every five years.
The report shows that stakeholders and survey respondents believe that disparities are created within the sector by one-size-fits-all approaches to regulation that burden smaller operators.
The report also indicates that many respondents feel that information about the sector and the regulations are not readily accessible by the public and that there is a desire for more meaningful and inclusive engagement with the province and industry.
The final report includes 15 recommendations, including to increase efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden and redundancies, integrating cumulative and long-term environmental impacts into the regulatory framework, increasing the amount of information available to the public and the frequency of release and to review effective approaches to make public input in the process more meaningful.
A representative of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia says that their organization welcomed the recommendations, particularly as it related to improved transparency and regulatory rightsizing.
“We echo the report’s insight on the constraints that the current regulatory environment place on new entrants to the sector,” said the spokesperson. “Currently, applicants to the adjudicative lease and licence process can anticipate a 3+ year wait for their application to be processed, even for small-scale operations with good community engagement. This doesn’t create the environment for growth that the AANS is working to create.”
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