A new study suggests evidence that Ottawa uses to claim aquaculture is environmentally sustainable is sketchy because it lacks any detailed, long-term analysis.
Inka Milewski, a research associate in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University, says her findings in the journal Marine Policy are based on a series of long-term studies in the small community of Port Mouton Bay, N.S.
They included a seven-year survey suggesting lobsters were displaced from a 20-square-kilometre area of the bay when the fish farm was operating, but partially recovered when it was dormant.
Milewski and co-author Ruth Smith also cited a study published last fall suggesting a decrease in eelgrass when the flowering underwater plant was near pens.
Ottawa had collected reports of 14.4 metric tonnes of antibiotics and 439 metric tonnes of hydrogen peroxide pesticides being placed in the waters since federal aquaculture regulations came into force four years ago.
WATCH: Aquaculture sector gets a multi-million dollar boost
However, Milewski says the federal Fisheries Department isn’t looking behind that to see what is happening to habitat near pens over time.