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It is FARMING, not Fishing

Why Bureaucrats & Environmentalists Miss the Point of Canadian Aquaculture

April 19, 2006


"Aquaculture in Canada is being held back by a dysfunctional government bureaucracy, by an obsolete property rights system, and by the machinations of environmental activists operating through pressured, unthinking mass media," so concludes AIMS’ latest paper "It is FARMING, not Fishing: Why Bureaucrats and Environmentalists Miss the Point of Canadian Aquaculture."

Author Robin Neill, professor of Economics at UPEI, examines the bureaucracy surrounding the industry in Canada and calls for a fundamental reorientation. Aquaculture in Canada needs to be recognized for what it is: farming. He says aquaculture needs to be separated from the administration of the wild fishery, which means taking it out of the jurisdiction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

"As one critic put it, the government’s oversight of aquaculture is analogous to ‘a chicken farm being managed by the Migratory Birds Act’," Neill says. "In Canada, fish farming falls under the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, not the Department of Agriculture as are other types of farmed animals, such as hogs, chickens and cattle."

More and more of the fish finding its way to our dinner tables these days is farmed, but less and less of that farmed fish is Canadian. Yet Canada is considered to have world-class expertise in fish farming and fish farmers from around the world come to Canada to learn how to do it right.

Neill concludes the solution to the problems facing Canadian aquaculture involves three strategies. They are:

Establish the same private property rights in aquaculture that exist in agriculture.
Separate government oversight of aquaculture from that of the wild fisheries.
Replace politicized decision making with objective cost-benefit analysis in disputes concerning aquaculture.

It is FARMING, not Fishing is the latest paper in the AIMS "How to Farm the Seas" series.
Download the report [PDF]

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