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A look into Canadian Atlantic Aquaculture

One of the most common misconceptions among Canadians surrounding aquaculture is probably that the people who work in the industry do not care about sustainability or the environment. In reality there are a number of members working directly in the industry who are advocates for sustainable and healthy farming practices. We are going to explore the world of Canada's Atlantic Aquaculture industry to demonstrate some of the ways that environmental best practices are being implemented to improve the local aquaculture industry.

Canada's Atlantic coast offers the perfect environment to farm fish, like our native Atlantic Salmon, that are being cultivated to meet the global demand for seafood. Farmed Atlantic Salmon look and are almost genetically identical to their wild counterparts. In fact, the majority of salmon farmed in Atlantic Canada originate from St. John's River stock.

Farmers do all they can to closely mimic a salmon's life as it occurs in the wild, with stocks starting in freshwater and then being transferred to salt water occurring exactly how it does in the wild. Farmers on the east coast near the Bay of Fundy ensure that the fish are given plenty of room in the pens to swim freely and school naturally. The fish meal and fish oil used in the area are from industries that are regulated by the international fish meal and fish oil organization to ensure that the ingredients being used are coming from sustainable industry. The farms follow the highest farm management standards and farmers aim to provide their fish with the best possible living conditions.

Underwater camera systems are used in a number of cases (including Deep Trekker ROVs!) to monitor fish behaviour and fish health while reducing feed waste.

On Canada's east coast third party regulators ensure that farms operate within the stringent environmental regulations by following laid out codes and practices. There are over 70 provincial and federal acts and regulations that pertain to Canadian fisheries and farms that must be followed.

Many farmers hold the belief that their fellow farmers need to be "good stewards to our environment" to ensure the sustainability of our oceans and the aquaculture industry itself.

In addition to the strict regulations, some farmers are exploring new sustainable farm practices to improve the quality of their farms. An example of one of these practices is Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) which refers to the practices of farming multiple species in a way that the waste from one species is used to cultivate the next. The idea behind IMTA is that waste is reduced and ecosystems are able to develop to improve environmental sustainability. On the Atlantic coast some farmers are implementing this aquaculture practice by using local species of mussels and kelp to mimic the natural ecosystems from the area.

Canada's east coast has a rich history of fishing that has been passed down for generations. The industry hugely affects the culture of the area and many people rely on the business of fish farming for their livelihoods as well as for food. The global demand for fish has created a need for the global aquaculture industry in order to reduce the loss of wild fish stocks. The Atlantic coast demonstrates how as time continues to pass, aquaculture practices and uses are being improved to ensure environmental sustainability and quality of food.

Check out this awesome video from the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmer's Association to learn more about the Canadian Atlantic Aquaculture Industry.