Changes to modernize Ontario’s approach to licensing aquaculture

ERO number
019-1502
Notice type
Act
Act
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
October 6, 2020 - November 20, 2020 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

October 6, 2020
to November 20, 2020

Proposal summary

We are proposing to modernize and streamline the regulatory framework for Ontario’s aquaculture facilities through a series of changes designed to address the range and risks associated with Ontario’s growing and diverse aquaculture operations.

Proposal details

The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2020, if passed, would enact several legislative amendments that support improving Ontario’s competitiveness, reducing unnecessary red tape and regulatory burden on business, without compromising safeguards that protect public health and wellbeing, safety and the environment.

Proposed changes to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 and Ontario Regulation 664/98

Aquaculture is defined as the breeding or husbandry of fish. Aquaculture licences are currently issued for terms of five years and allow a holder to buy, transport, culture and sell fish under a single licence.

Under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (FWCA) and Ontario Regulation 664/98, a licence is required to engage in aquaculture in Ontario, unless otherwise exempt.

Aquaculture operations can range from:

  • small community hatcheries
  • fee-for-fishing businesses
  • aquaponics facilities
  • indoor industrial scale operations
  • open water cage aquaculture

Currently, a number of licence exemptions exist for culturing fish in aquariums for personal use and public education or aquarium trade purposes, subject to criteria described in regulation.

The current regulatory framework governing aquaculture is not designed to address the range and risk associated with Ontario’s growing and diverse aquaculture operations. We are proposing to modernize and streamline the regulatory framework for Ontario’s aquaculture facilities through the following changes:

  1. Making it easier and more cost effective for educational institutions and facilities to undertake aquaculture research by exempting certain low-risk research facilities culturing fish from requiring an aquaculture licence. The facilities would be required to meet criteria intended to maintain environmental protections and protect native fish populations
  2. Establishing the ability to change FWCA licences and authorizations, including their conditions. This proposed change would enable greater flexibility to respond to the evolving needs of aquaculture operators, while ensuring that facilities are developed and conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner.
  3. Changing decision-making power from Lieutenant Governor in Council to Minister on prescribing species of fish that may be cultured in Ontario. This proposed change would reduce approval timelines for industry and support facilities wishing to diversify and grow their operations more quickly.

Regulatory impact analysis

The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposals are expected to be neutral. The proposed licence exemption would only apply to low-risk research facilities that meet certain criteria and we will continue to ensure that aquaculture in Ontario is developed and conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The anticipated social consequences of the proposals are expected to be neutral.

The anticipated economic consequences of the proposals are expected to be positive. The proposed licence exemption for low-risk research facilities will make it easier and more cost effective for educational institutions and facilities to undertake aquaculture research. The proposal to provide the ability to change FWCA authorizations and licences, including conditions, will enable greater flexibility to respond to evolving business needs and therefore provide an increased level of business certainty. The proposed change to reduce timelines to prescribe species of fish that may be cultured in Ontario will allow businesses to diversify and grow their operations more quickly.

Supporting materials

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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

MNRF - Fish and Wildlife Policy Branch - Fisheries Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from October 6, 2020
to November 20, 2020

Connect with us

Contact

Leala Pomfret-Schiller

Phone number
Office
MNRF - Fish and Wildlife Policy Branch - Fisheries Section
Address

300 Water Street
5th floor, North tower
Peterborough, ON
K9J 3C7
Canada

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