New amendments introduced in the House of Assembly today are aimed at modernizing regulations governing the oversight of aquaculture throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The aquaculture industry consists of 133 aquaculture sites throughout the province and contributed $120 million to the provincial economy in 2011.

“The aquaculture industry continues to be one of the most significant examples of successful economic developments supported by the Provincial Government in recent years,” said the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “Rural and coastal communities through Newfoundland and Labrador continue to reap the benefits of this relatively new industry to our province. Since 2007, over 500 jobs have been created and with the support our government, over $400 million has been leveraged in private-sector investment to support industry development and growth. An expanded aquaculture industry will result in a wide range of economic, labour market, demographic and social benefits for rural regions, stronger regional and community sustainability, and the creation of additional opportunities for a younger, educated demographic.”

The Aquaculture Act is the primary governance document for the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was drafted in response to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture in 1988. The purpose of the Aquaculture Act is to promote prudent and orderly development in the industry, secure property rights for industry, minimize resource user conflicts, and to engage in co-operative decision-making.

Proposed changes to the Aquaculture Act will bring the industry in line with other jurisdictions throughout the country and strengthen regulatory and enforcement opportunities for the Provincial Government. The amendments were derived from consultations with industry and other stakeholders in 2010.

Amendments to the Aquaculture Act include: New abandoned site reclamation rules; Enhanced industry compliance and enforcement regulations; More comprehensive definitions; New ability for ministerial refusal of aquaculture licences if in the public interest; and Introduction of mandatory licensee compliance to aquatic animal health policies.

Specifically, amendments will enable the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to require financial or other security to cover the operation and require the licensee to restore the aquaculture site to satisfaction. As well, the act will now give the minister the authority to give aquaculture inspectors the powers of peace officers when deemed necessary. Finally, an amendment will enable ticketing and administrative penalties and provide associated regulation-making powers.

“As the industry grows we have to continue to grow with it,” said Minister King. “What may have been appropriate in the legislation five years ago, may not necessarily work in 2012. Definitions will be broadened and new amendments must be made for industry and the province to continue to work together in harmony.”

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Media contact:
Bradley Power
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 699-5707