Assessing the barriers and incentives to the adoption of integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture in the Canadian Salmon Aquaculture Industry

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In recent years, alternative systems of aquaculture production, including Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) and Closed Containment Aquaculture (CCA), have been developed to mitigate some of the potential adverse environmental effects of conventional salmon farming. This study assessed the barriers to and incentives for the adoption of IMTA in the Canadian salmon aquaculture industry, and also investigated the potential for regulatory and market-based instruments as incentives for further IMTA adoption. 21 participants representing salmon farmers, industry associations, provincial and federal government regulatory agencies, and environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) were interviewed. Data were analyzed using a hybrid thematic coding approach of both a priori and inductive coding. Results found that participants considered uncertainty pertaining to biological and technical feasibility, fish health, and regulations, to be key explanatory factors impeding IMTA adoption. Perceived lack of profitability, existing regulatory and institutional frameworks, preference for CCA technology, and a general lack of incentives, were other significant barriers to adoption. Perceived incentives for adoption include positive ecological benefits of IMTA and the ability to obtain a premium price for IMTA products through marketing schemes. Several regulatory and market-based instruments were also perceived to be important in incentivizing adoption, including further knowledge transfer, nutrient taxes on feed with IMTA taxed less, corporate tax credits and subsidies. In order to address the multiple barriers that cumulatively create a strong disincentive to adopt, a “whole-of-government” approach towards IMTA will be required.
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