Frequently Asked Questions

What is aquaculture?

Aquaculture is the breeding, rearing and harvesting of fish, shellfish, plants, algae and other organisms in all types of water environment. There are two main types of aquaculture: marine and freshwater.

As the demand for seafood has increased, technology has made it possible to grow food in coast marine waters and the open ocean. Aquaculture is a method used to produce food and other commercial products, restore habitat and replenish wild stocks and rebuild populations of threatened and endangered species. Fifty per cent of seafood consumed is derived from aquaculture. We produce mussels, oysters, salmon in Nova Scotia that is consumed in our province and exported.

Does Nova Scotia have both land based and open pen aquaculture?

Yes. Nova Scotia’s geography means that there is opportunity for both types. There are 44 companies operating more than 270 marine aquaculture sites along the coast of Nova Scotia. The use of commercial scale, land based facilities to produce certain finfish species, is considered to be in early developmental stages. The industry and scientific communities continue to work on various types of systems and designs to produce a high quality product that will expand fish to be farmed in closed containment systems. Nova Scotia has land based fish culture facilities that produce a several different species.

Do we have regulations on the number and types of pesticides used in facilities?

The pesticides used in the aquaculture industry are approved by Health Canada under the Pest Control Products Act. Any new products must go through a risk assessment including environmental impacts, prior to being approved. The proposed Aquaculture Activities Regulation will further regulate the use of treatment products and will not result in the use of new pesticides or chemicals by the aquaculture industry.

Are there negative impacts on the fisheries and marine life?

Coastal aquaculture, when regulated and carried out responsibly, will not negatively affect fisheries and marine life. When conducted responsibly, it has been shown that fish farming and wild fisheries can co-exist. In some cases Aquaculture operators are also active fishermen. Aquaculture is an industry that can have a positive impact on the economic development in rural areas. Aquaculture is a positive contributor to the sustainability of the fisheries sector through contributions to shared infrastructure and diversified markets stemming from rural Nova Scotia.

Why do fish freeze?

In the marine environment water temperatures may drop below zero because of the water’s high salt content. Fish, although their blood contains salt, may freeze when seawater temperatures get extremely cold.

Fish do not normally freeze in the winter. Some fish like flounder possess antifreeze proteins that allow them to survive extremely low temperatures. Other fish migrate from colder temperatures. On occasion, fish may get trapped in extremely cold marine water and die. This may happen in the wild, such as the loss of mackerel in the Bras d’Or Lakes in 2015 or in cultured fish. In Atlantic Canada, fish are farmed in areas that may experience low temperatures. If extreme temperature events arise losses of fish may occur.