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IMTA and Regulations

The 1995 version of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) prohibited the development of IMTA in Canada, as Section 2 (“Polyculture”) of Chapter 12 (“Shellfish Aquaculture”) stipulated that “There should be a minimum of a 125 m prohibited area surrounding netpens”.PDF

The rationale for this 125 m area was not elaborated and was lacking support by scientific data.

Since 2001 our project has accumulated significant amounts of data and on March 25-26, 2004, we organized a workshop entitled “Defining the appropriate regulatory and policy framework for the development of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture practices” in Saint John, New Brunswick.PDF

For two days 61 members of the academia, provincial and federal regulatory agencies, federal funding agencies, industry, aquaculture professional associations, environmental non-governmental organizations and the media, met to discuss the concept of IMTA. The goal of the meeting was to identify the challenges that have to be addressed with respect to information and regulations regarding this practice. The workshop identified the work needed to allow the development of IMTA at the environmental, economic and societal levels, and what regulations and policies needed to be amended and how.

Four years of discussions, meetings, and consultations with the different agencies involved followed, and the CSSP was finally amended on May 14, 2008. Section 2 (“Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture”) of Chapter 12 now indicates that “For the purpose of the CSSP, IMTA refers to the raising of shellfish and finfish within a 125 m radius of one another in the marine environment”. Appendix XII “Procedure for development, approval and review of an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Management Plan” was also added to the CSSP.

The text of these documents can be read on the following links:

We are very proud of this achievement, and of the fact that academic research can be relevant to society and foster the development of environmentally responsible aquaculture practices. But we must forge ahead, especially with the other species we are growing, or plan to grow, at IMTA sites and for which there are not, presently, any regulations or policies.

After amending the C Shellfish SP, we now plan to work on the C Seaweeds SP, the C Sea Urchins SP, the C Sea Cucumbers SP, etc. In fact, a more efficient strategy may be to work on developing a comprehensive C Seafood SP. In order to foster timely IMTA industry progression, product development and regulations must progress in concert. Consequently, we must start working on these regulations and policies immediately!