FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced a new Aquaculture Act to replace the current legislation.

“As part of our efforts to energize the private sector, our government is modernizing the Aquaculture Act to better support growth and attract further investment in this sector,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Ross Wetmore. “The new act will strengthen environmental protection, improve fish health and welfare and allow us to expand public reporting.”

The new act better aligns with legislation from the Atlantic provinces, which would result in a reduction of the regulatory burden for companies operating in the sector. It would also establish an outcome-based regime to improve licensing and leasing predictability for operators.

“New Brunswick is the heart of salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada, where the industry has been operating for more than 40 years,” said Susan Farquharson, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association. “Aquaculture is one of New Brunswick's most promising sectors, and we look forward to working with the province on the regulations to support this new legislative framework and a finfish development strategy that supports this sector's sustainable growth.”

The bill proposes the designation of a chief veterinarian officer position, as well as clear requirements related to reporting the presence or suspicion of diseases, disease agents, pests, invasive species, contaminants and mortality events.

“Modernizing the Aquaculture Act was identified in last week’s throne speech as one of the government’s priorities to better support and further energize the private sector in New Brunswick,” said Serge LeBlanc, president of the Shellfish Association of New Brunswick. “The oyster farming industry is an important source of jobs and economic activity in rural and coastal communities on New Brunswick’s East coast.”

The new act would also allow the government to be more effective when it comes to managing interactions between aquaculture operations and the environment by providing the ability to define containment standards and strengthening the obligation to restore a site.

“We have had early discussions with various stakeholders and so far, the feedback has been positive,” said Wetmore. “I look forward to having more in-depth discussions with all stakeholder groups, including First Nations, as we move into the regulatory development phase.”

The bill also includes the creation of an online registry to provide further opportunities to engage the public and provide more data on aquaculture operations and the effectiveness of regulations.