The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) establishes the requirement for an aquaculture licence to culture fish in Ontario. The Ontario Regulation (O. Reg. 664/98) establishes a list of species eligible for culture (Schedule B) under the authority of an aquaculture licence. Only those species listed may be legally cultured in Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has received requests to consider adding Barramundi and the Giant Freshwater Prawn to Schedule B.
Barramundi is indigenous to the tropical and semi-tropical areas of the Indo-Pacific region. Barramundi is a prized fish in the commercial fishing industry in its native range as well as a fish food product worldwide. Barramundi has been introduced for the purpose of aquaculture in many countries around the world. Several facilities in the United States currently culture Barramundi as a fish for human consumption. Currently, Barramundi is being shipped into Ontario for the live fish food market in major urban centres.
Giant Freshwater River Prawn:
The Giant Freshwater River Prawn is indigenous to South and Southeast Asia. This prawn has been imported into many other temperate and tropical areas of the world as it is favoured for aquaculture purposes. Farmed shell-on prawns are a popular food item in European and American grocery stores. Production of the prawn for the restaurant industry is expanding worldwide. This species of prawn has been cultured in the United States since the 1970s.
Both requests have been subjected to the risk assessment process outlined in the National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms. The individual risk assessments were reviewed and supported by the Ontario Introduction and Transfers Committee (OI&TC).
The risk assessments determined that both species pose low risk of becoming established in Ontario waters as both require warm water temperatures and saline or brackish waters during their lifecycle.
To further reduce any risks the species may pose to natural ecosystems, the OI&TC recommended that these species only be cultured in closed contained land based facilities and not in cage aquaculture facilities (i.e. open water). Additionally, the OI&TC recommended the following mitigation measures which, if the proposal is approved, will become conditions of aquaculture licences:
• Cultured in closed recirculating system only
• Facility is sited away from natural watercourses & floodplains
• Access to the site is strictly controlled
• Delivery protocols should be established to prevent escapes
• Transport water should be disinfected before disposal and not discharged to a natural watercourse
• Effluent water must be treated and not discharged to a watercourse
• No direct import of fish from the wild or uncertified sources
• Incoming fish are quarantined and health inspections conducted as required by CFIA
• Proper measures developed to dispose of sick/dead fish
• Regular inspections of the facility to ensure licence conditions are met
In addition to the above mitigation measures that apply to both species, the live sale of the Giant Freshwater River Prawn to the general public will be prohibited.
To invite comment on the proposed addition of both species to the list of species eligible for culture under authority of an aquaculture licence.
The following web-links provide background information related to this proposal:
1. E-Laws provides access to O. Reg. 664/98 under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (to give legal effect to this proposal, this regulation would be amended to add the Barramundi and Giant Freshwater River Prawn to the list of species eligible for aquaculture):
2. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms, http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/management-gestion/2013-IT-Code-Aug-26-eng.pdf
This proposal was posted for a 46 day public review and comment period starting February 11, 2016. Comments were to be received by March 28, 2016.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.
In addition to this Environmental Registry posting key stakeholders will receive letters indicating that MNRF has received this proposal and will be directed here to submit comments if interested. The MNRF is committed to working with the industry to ensure that it can expand and flourish in Ontario in an ecologically sustainable manner.
A regulation is the most appropriate means to achieve the proposal's objectives. Regulations provide more openness, consistency and certainty than other control mechanisms; they provide the force of law and are enforceable.
The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are considered to be minimal. In the improbable event of an escape from an aquaculture facility it is highly unlikely that either species would become established in Ontario waters as both species require warm water temperatures and brackish/salt water during their lifecycles. With the mitigation measures acting as further control, the potential risk to the environment is low.
The anticipated social consequences of the proposal are neutral to positive, and the anticipated economic consequences are positive. The addition of these species to the list eligible for culture under authority of an aquaculture licence will provide opportunity to diversify Ontario’s aquaculture industry, potentially providing opportunities for economic development and job creation.