Aquaculture International

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 9–32 | Cite as

Public attitudes towards marine aquaculture in Canada: insights from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts

  • Mark FlahertyEmail author
  • Gregor Reid
  • Thierry Chopin
  • Erin Latham


With 25% of the world’s coastline, Canada is endowed with enormous potential for marine aquaculture. Its development on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, however, has come under increasingly intense public scrutiny and generated heated debate over many issues including First Nations territorial rights, impacts on wild fisheries, and environmental impacts. Provincial governments, industry alliances, scientists and ENGOs (environmental non-governmental organizations) have become increasingly embroiled in a communication tug-of-war to win the hearts and minds of the public. To date, however, there has been very limited community-level research into the public’s awareness of aquaculture, the information sources viewed as being most credible, and the issues that resonate the most. This paper reports the results of a study undertaken in small coastal communities on Canada’s Pacific (west) and Atlantic (east) coasts that investigated awareness of aquaculture, and the issues that people associate with its development. While many studies have focused exclusively on attitudes related to either finfish or shellfish farming, this study explores community perceptions related to salmon, shellfish and seaweed farming. Significant differences exist between the Atlantic and Pacific coast respondents in terms of their familiarity with and evaluation of different farming systems, the information sources that they rely upon, and their perceptions of the reliability of different information sources.


Canada Marine aquaculture Public attitudes and information sources 



We would like to thank our interviewers, Breanna Moore, Kurt Simmons, and Nick Sherrington, for their diligence and commitment to teamwork.

Funding information

We greatly appreciate the financial support provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) strategic Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network (CIMTAN) in collaboration Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018
corrected publication November/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture NetworkUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.St. Andrews Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans CanadaSt. AndrewsCanada
  3. 3.Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network, University of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada

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