Aquaculture operations often result in interactions with migratory birds that are generally viewed by the industry as negative. Most concerns relate to depredation or removal of aquaculture stock from gear, and to the resources required to minimize such effects. These often represent an additional cost to aquaculture operations. The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), managers of migratory birds in Canada, consider many aquaculture operations to have negative impacts on migratory birds. These include loss of, or increased human activity in, key habitats used by migratory birds. Specific issues include:
- exclusion of birds from former key habitats by existing aquaculture activity or increased negative interactions,
- increased pressure anticipated from future industry, including:
- loss of breeding habitat and disturbance of breeding birds;
- changes in bird distributions, abundance and fitness due to changes in food availability from aquaculture operations; and
- pollution of substrates below and in close proximity to aquaculture
structures that change food availability and habitat quality for birds.
There is therefore a need for increased cooperation among the managers of migratory birds (CWS), the aquaculture industry and other regulators of the environment used for aquaculture to minimize these negative interactions. Nonetheless, increased growth of the aquaculture industry will result in increased demand for scare permits issued by CWS. Since CWS's mandate and the Migratory Birds Regulations' main function is to conserve and protect migratory birds, which includes minimizing disturbance, a policy is needed for the issuance of these permits. Consultation with CWS as to proposed aquaculture sites and activities at sites should result in reducing potential interactions between aquaculture and migratory birds and the need for scare permits. Inevitably, however, aquaculture will result in changes in coastal and inshore ecosytems that will affect migratory birds. CWS will use the best available science to provide guidance in siting and deterrents to minimize negative impacts on migratory birds and aquaculture operations. In some situations, additional research and monitoring will be required. In such cases, CWS will provide advice to industry and government regulators concerning the collection of required information.