Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Aquaculture in Atlantic Canada

Environment: The Natural Advantage

There are over 40,000 kilometres of coastline around Atlantic Canada offering ideal environmental conditions for many types of aquaculture – particularly the many finfish and shellfish species more suited to cool water conditions. This long coastline, featuring pristine growing waters, and its many coastal communities provide the physical environment and the community-based support for the ongoing development of the aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada. In addition, the natural marine environment across the region ranges from subarctic to temperate, from the tide-dominated, world-renowned Bay of Fundy to the often iceberg-laden northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Each area has its own unique, productive growing conditions for a variety of species.

Nearshore Farms

The traditional settings for most aquaculture nearshore farms are near land in coves, bays or inlets. While many of the usable nearshore sites are currently being farmed, there is still potential for growth in most Atlantic provinces. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have just begun to tap their potential for salmon and mussel farming, and New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are expanding oyster, scallop and clam farming in select areas. Aquaculture development continues in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner across the region.

Open-Ocean Farms

To supplement the nearshore sites, interest is growing in further exploring and developing the technologies and strategies for establishing farms in more exposed, offshore, or open-ocean areas. Open-ocean farming is seen as one approach to further expansion of the aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada. Companies in Atlantic Canada are already producing salmonids and mussels in open-ocean conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Nova Scotia. Offshore farming is being explored for both finfish and shellfish production in all provinces.

Land-Based Production

Where feasible for economic and environmental reasons and for the health of the fish, land-based production is currently used to farm commercial and emerging species such as steelhead trout, arctic char, sturgeon, tilapia, Atlantic halibut, exotic sea bream and sea bass as well as marine plants for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical markets. It is also used for the production of juveniles for salmon, oysters, clams and scallops.

An iceberg

Photo Credit: Cyr Couturier, MUN Marine Institute

A salmon farm

Photo Credit: Cyr Couturier, MUN Marine Institute

Nova Scotia has become a leader in land-based farms for halibut, sea bream, sea bass and arctic char using advanced recirculation technologies. Prince Edward Island promotes its ample access to the large quantities of fresh and salt water required for a variety of bio-secure, land-based aquaculture facilities. An increasing number of operations throughout the region are developing land-based aquaponics in fresh and salt water, combining fish culture with plant culture in recirculating, land-based aquatic systems.

With ideal environmental conditions for most types of aquaculture, Atlantic Canada boasts over 40,000 kilometres of largely uninhabited, or low population density, pristine coastline.

Buoys in the ocean

If you would like more information on this sector,
please contact:

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
P.O. Box 6051
Moncton, New Brunswick

Phone: 1-506-851-2271
Toll-free: 1-800-561-7862 (Canada and United States)
Fax: 1-506-851-7403


Map of Eastern Canada and USA, highlighting Atlantic Canada

ACOA logo and the Symbol of the Government of Canada

Catalogue number: AC5-18/2011E ISBN: 978-1-100-19608-4 ACOA: 2011-12