The New Process

Everyone who wants to conduct aquaculture in the province must apply for a licence from the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. A key aspect of the new regulatory framework for the management and development of aquaculture is the process for acquiring aquaculture leases and licences in Nova Scotia: There is a distinct application process for Land Based Sites, New Marine Site, and Reallocated Marine Sites.

The new legislation identifies three different processes to apply for aquaculture licence and leases site, each with its own process:

  • a licence (not lease) for a new land-based site
  • a licence and lease for a new marine site
  • a licence and lease on a reallocated marine site – which was established previously and terminated by either the Department or operator

Goals of the new processes
The goals of the new licence and lease processes are to

  • make the steps necessary to get a licence and lease easy to understand
  • give the public and other stakeholders more opportunity to comment on proposed developments
  • increase transparency
  • improve the predictability and objectivity of the decision-making process
  • establish timelines in the approval process to prompt timely responses
  • support the responsible growth of the Nova Scotia aquaculture industry

Land Based Sites Applications

Accepting Applications Now

Landbased aquaculture in Nova Scotia consists of finfish and shellfish hatcheries and finfish grow-out operations. Land based aquaculture operations only require a licence from the province as they are conducted on private property. The application process for a land-based aquaculture licence is defined in the new Aquaculture Licence and Lease Regulations.

For applications involving a Land Based Aquaculture Site

In order to conduct aquaculture on private property an individual must obtain an aquaculture licence from the Province.

  1. Applicant submits a COMPLETE application: Application Form; Development Plan; application fee; any other info requested.

    Department reviews for completeness:

    • Accepts as complete
    • Rejects as incomplete and outlines time frame for the applicant to resubmit.
  2. Department reviews accepted application:

    • conducts a comprehensive internal technical review
    • notifies the Office of Aboriginal Affairs (NSOAA) of the application:
      • NSOAA conducts a consultation screening and reports back to the Minister:
        • recommends that the department proceed without consultation
        • notifies the nearest First Nation
        • initiates consultation with the Mi’kmaq using NS-Can-Mi'kmaq TOR
    • sends relevant sections to provincial and federal network partners, as applicable: NSDA, NSDMA; NSDCCH; NSDE; NSDNR; NSOAA (mentioned above); DFO; EC; CFIA

    Network partners report back to Department with analysis and comments

    Department must conclude any initiated consultations with the Mi'kmaq.

    Department collects, compiles, and submits all information received to the Administrator

    Administrator publishes notification of the application for the licence on the department’s website, the Royal Gazette Part 1, and any other means deemed appropriate, inviting the public to submit written comments within 30 days of the notification.

    Written submissions from the Public must include

    • identification and contact information of the individual making the submission
    • how the person is connected to the matter
    • how the application effects one or more of the factors set out in the regulation
  3. Administrator decides by considering the information supplied by applicant, advice from the department, and information gathered through Public Notification Period and the regulations and policy governing land based aquaculture.

    Administrator issues a Decision that outlines reasons for:

    • approval
    • approval with variations
    • rejection

    Administrator sends written notification of the decision with reason for the decision to the applicant. A copy of the decision will also be posted on the website.

    After the appeal period, the Administrator implements the decision.

New Marine Site

Within a non-designated Aquaculture Development Area

Applications Opening in 2016

New Marine Sites are areas in our coastal waters that are suitable for finfish or shellfish where it is compatible with other important uses of those waters.

Please note: Applicants may be referred to as a proponent (at the proposal phase), an option holder (once awarded an option), or an applicant (at the application phase).

For applications involving a new marine site (in a non-designated Aquaculture Development Area)

The application process is rigorous for a lease in areas that have not yet undergone an assessment by the province. The first step is to acquire an Option from the Minister to pursue a lease in a larger defined area. This first step encourages better dialog between the applicant and local stakeholders in the siting and design of an aquaculture project. A request for an Option will require the completion of a proposal that may be solicited by the Minister in a competitive Call for Proposals process or simply accepted in an unsolicited, non-competitive process. In both instances, the acceptance or rejection of the proposal will be at the discretion of the Minister based on established criteria and the proposed activity's alignment with current provincial policy. Once an Option to lease has been issued, the option holder is given the exclusive right to identify an appropriate site within the option area informed through a scoping process, which may result in a lease application. The approval or rejection of a licence and lease application will be governed by a defined process, with the decision being made by an independent Review Board based on factors set out in regulations.

  1. Minister issues a Call for Proposals that sets a deadline. The Call for Proposals will outline details of the types of aquaculture to be accepted in the Call.

    OR

    The Minister may accept an unsolicited, non-competitive proposal after the proponent has a pre-proposal meeting with the department (required for all unsolicited proposals). Templates will be made available to guide the proponent’s submission.

    Proponent submits a proposal by the deadline if a Call for Proposals was issued OR to the Minister at any time, using the template provided by the department.

    Minister evaluates proposals, using criteria outlined in regulation and accounting for provincial and departmental policy alignment. The Minister may

    • accept the proposal
    • accept the proposal with variations
    • reject the proposal

    Minister notifies the successful proponent that they have 15 days to pay a fee to secure their option.

  2. Option holder submits fee within 15 days to secure their Option.

    Department posts notice of the Option on webpage and in Royal Gazette, giving name of applicant, species, area – once the Option is secured.

    Option holder scopes out a suitable location within a defined area for a new aquaculture site.

    Option holder engages stakeholders and the public to solicit feedback and advice on their proposed development:

    • holds two-way conversation with community to help inform ultimate site location and configuration
    • conducts at least one public meeting in the community closest to the area proposed for the site

    Option holder prepares a scoping report detailing engagement activities and the specific location of the site by the 6-month deadline. Option holders may request an extension of up to 6 months for more complex applications.

  3. Applicant submits a COMPLETE application before the end of the option period: Application Form; Development Plan; Scoping Report; application fee; any other info requested

    Department reviews for completeness:

    • Accepts as complete
    • Rejects as incomplete and outlines timeframe for the applicant to resubmit
  4. Department reviews accepted application:

    • conducts a comprehensive internal technical review
    • notifies the Office of Aboriginal Affairs (NSOAA) of the application:
      • NSOAA conducts a consultation screening and reports back to the Minister:
        • recommends that the department proceed without consultation
        • notifies the nearest First Nation
        • initiates consultation with the Mi’kmaq using NS-Can-Mi'kmaq TOR
    • sends relevant sections to provincial and federal network partners, as applicable: NSDA, NSDMA; NSDCCH; NSDE; NSDNR; NSOAA (mentioned above); DFO; EC; CFIA; TC

    Network partners report back to Department with analysis and comments

    Department must conclude any initiated consultations with the Mi'kmaq.

    Department collects, compiles, and submits all information received to the Review Board.

    Review Board has 15 days (from the date it receives the information from the department) to pick a date for the hearing (at least 60 days – not more than 90 days)

    Review Board publishes the Notice of Hearing in Royal Gazette, on the Department's website, and in any other manner deemed necessary. The notice will include the nature, time, place, location of lease, species, method, name of applicant, and any other necessary information.

    Public may

    • submit written comments during notice period
    • speak at the hearing – maximum 6 minutes per person
    • apply for intervenor status: apply in writing within 10 days of hearing notice being published; intervenors get copies of the application package, copies of correspondence with other intervenors, and speaking time at hearing. Review Board must respond to requests for intervenor status within 10 days: allow or refuse
    • attend the public hearing

    Review Board notifies the applicant and the Department when an intervenor has been granted status. All parties receive all materials submitted by approved intervenors in advance of the hearing, outlining their concerns in relation to the factors for consideration outlined in regulations.

    Review Board holds Adjudicated Public Hearing

  5. Review Board applies the regulated factors to the information supplied by applicant, advice from the Department, and information gathered through Public Notification Period and Adjudicated Hearing in order to make a decision.

    Review Board issues a Decision Document that outlines reasons for:

    • approval
    • approval with variations
    • rejections

    Review Board publishes decision in Royal Gazette, on website, to each party (applicant, Minister; intervenors)

    After the appeal period, the Minister implements the Review Board’s decision.

Reallocated Marine Sites

Applications Opening in Winter 2016

Those sites on our coast where a licence and lease has been issued but not used and is inactive may be reallocated. Owners are being contacted to determine if they want to maintain the licence and lease under the new regulations.

Please note: Applicants may be referred to as a proponent (at the proposal phase), or an applicant (at the application phase).

For applications involving a Reallocated Marine Aquaculture Site

The Province maintains a registry of sites for potential reallocation to other operators through a competitive Call for Proposals process. Proposals will be judged according to established criteria. A successful proponent will have the exclusive right to apply for the site. The site can only be used for the purpose for which it was originally approved.

  1. Administrator issues a Call for Proposals and sets a deadline for receiving proposals. The Call for Proposals will outline the specific type and scale of aquaculture that would be authorized for the site.

    Interested parties (Proponents) submit a proposal by the deadline.

    Administrator evaluates proposals, using criteria outlined in regulation and accounting for provincial and departmental policy alignment. The Administrator may

    • Select a proposal as submitted;
    • Select a proposal but with variations;
    • Not select a proposal

    Administrator notifies the successful proponent that they have 90 days to pay a fee and submit their application, development plan, and any other information requested by the Administrator.

  2. Applicant submits a COMPLETE application before the end of the 90 day application period outlined by the Administrator: Application Form; Development Plan; application fee; any other info requested.

    Department reviews for completeness:

    • Accepts as complete
    • Rejects as incomplete and outlines timeframe for the applicant to resubmit
  3. Department reviews accepted application:

    • conducts an comprehensive internal technical review

    Department collects, compiles, and submits all information received to the Administrator.

    Administrator publishes notification of the application for the licence and lease on the Department’s website, the Royal Gazette, and any other means deemed appropriate, inviting the public to submit written comments within 30 days of the notification.

    Written submissions from the Public must include

    • identification and contact information of the individual making the submission
    • how the person is connected to the matter
    • how the application effects one or more of the factors set out in regulation.
  4. Administrator decides by considering the information supplied by applicant, advice from the department, and information gathered through Public Notification Period and determining if the information supports the factors set out in regulation.

    Administrator issues a Decision that outlines reasons for:

    • approval
    • approval with variations
    • rejection

    After the appeal period, the Administrator implements the decision.