Environmental Monitoring Program

The environmental impact of aquaculture is, and will always be, a priority for the department. Like any farming, whether it is on land or sea, aquaculture operations result in effects. Environmental monitoring has shown that the impacts of finfish farming are localized, low risk and temporary if managed effectively. The goal is to maintain balance and respond appropriately if evidence indicates balance is disrupted.

At the same time, a growing body of evidence shows that potentially positive environmental effects result from farming shellfish, particularly bivalves such as oysters and mussels. This farming can stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, algae and other plant life, and can increase the abundance of deposit feeders, finfish and crustaceans.

The department's program (EMP) is an important monitoring and regulatory tool to balance the concerns of the public with the operations of aquaculturists. Since 2002, the program has thrived and remains one of the few marine aquaculture monitoring programs that samples both finfish and shellfish operations in a variety of marine ecosystems.

There are more than 270 marine aquaculture sites along the coast of Nova Scotia. While all are monitored, larger or more intensive farms are given higher priority. Sites of potential concern are subjected to repeat sampling and, if necessary, remedial action as required.

The EMP has determined the impact of aquaculture on the marine environment is generally low and that aquaculture in Nova Scotia is environmentally sustainable.

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