Nova Scotia Aquaculture Regulations Coming in October
Nova Scotia’s fisheries minister says regulations for aquaculture should be ready in October and will be “some of the best, if not the best” in the world.
Keith Colwell said in an interview Thursday that he sees major economic potential for the province from aquaculture, but it must be done right.
“We have to have a balance to grow the economy and make sure we look after our environment,” he said. “We have to make sure we do those two things and they have to go hand in hand.”
Colwell had previously suggested the regulations would be ready this summer, but on Thursday he said consultation is taking longer than expected.
“I’d rather it take longer to do it and do it right than rush it and not have it right.”
The final product will be a combination of things the government wanted to do and “pretty well all the things that were in” a recent auditor general’s report and the Doelle-Lahey report on aquaculture, said Colwell.
“We’ve touched all of those and we’ve gone beyond that,” he said, adding that they’ve evaluated what is done in Maine, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and parts of Europe.
There has been a moratorium on new leases while the regulations have been under development. Every area in the province is suitable for aquaculture, said Colwell, but some types of aquaculture are not suitable in every area.
That will be spelled out in the regulations, he said.
“In some areas, we just may decide that we’re not going to do it there for all kinds of reasons.”
Cooke Aquaculture has said in the past that the delays in getting the regulations in place have hampered its ability to make good on plans for a processing plant in Shelburne. The company received a $25-million loan from the province, $9 million of which is forgivable, for the plant and other projects in 2012.
Everything is supposed to be in place by the end of the year or the company must repay the forgivable loan with interest.
To date, the company has accessed $18 million from the pot. Company spokeswoman Nell Halse said in an email Thursday that Cooke has only accessed the loan “when conditions were met for investment in (Nova Scotia) as per the agreement.”
“We will honour the repayment terms of the loan with the province — just as we honour all of our financial and legal commitments.”
Cooke has supported the regulatory review and “urged the minister to release the new (regulations) and to start the process of developing the sector so that (Nova Scotia) can realize the benefits of a growing and responsible aquaculture sector,” she said.
Although he said the Business Department would deal with loan conditions, Colwell said the government would not change the parameters of the deal with Cooke.
He disputed claims by the company that it needed more leases in order to have the capacity to build the processing plant.
He also said the government wasn’t going to speed up the regulations process.
“In the past, we weren’t prepared for aquaculture, we weren’t doing it properly. That’s an understatement, it’s that bad and we know that.”
Once the regulations are released, the government will choose the people to sit on the independent board that will review licence and lease applications, he said.