The aquaculture industry has a positive story to tell, but…

Alex Whitebrook/ November 14, 2018/ News/ 0 comments

Campaigns by environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) that oversimplify complex aquaculture issues have left British Columbians caught in a fog of competing politicized agendas, contested science and misinformation.

“The net effect has been to create and perpetuate a climate of public skepticism and opposition that has spilled over into the political realm,” states a new study by researchers from the University of Victoria and the University of New Brunswick.

The study entitled ‘Public attitudes towards marine aquaculture in Canada: insights from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts’ was conducted between April and September 2016. A total of 648 respondents are included in the study—220 from coastal communities on Vancouver Island, and 428 from coastal communities in Canada’s Maritime Provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Governance of the aquaculture sector has been described as a ‘wicked problem’ that is difficult or impossible to solve owing in part to incomplete and/or contradictory knowledge, and opposing perspectives amongst community, industry and government stakeholders, the paper stated.

“When considered in the context of other major sectors of the Canadian economy (e.g. agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and natural gas), all of which have significant ecological impacts, the aquaculture industry has a positive story to tell.

Protein production is more efficient than any other animal production system, the industry has a lower carbon footprint than any another animal production system, and production is irrevocably dependent upon a healthy ocean environment.

Arguably, the aquaculture industry is being held to a much higher standard

“This can, in part, be attributed to ENGO campaigns that have been very effective in messaging and reducing complex issues to simple tropes that have become engrained in the aquaculture discourse,” the paper said.

There are many areas on Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts that have suitable growing conditions for diverse species groups in all sectors of the aquaculture industry. Canada’s federal and provincial governments have identified aquaculture as having potential to be an important economic driver within rural and coastal economies, and have adopted plans and strategies to support the industry.

While these factors might suggest a bright future for aquaculture, the path ahead is anything but smooth.

Read more HERE.

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