Modern, intensive aquaculture has developed rapidly over the past 30 years. In many cases this development has occurred in the absence of comprehensive policy and management frameworks. In general, the absence of a comprehensive overarching policy framework can lead to the ad hoc development of operational policies in response to unforeseen challenges.

While many jurisdictions profess adherence to the triple bottom-line for sustainable aquaculture development, their policy, regulatory and management frameworks do not effectively balance priorities for environmental, economic and social sustainability. In addition, it is common to have multiple departments and agencies with different and sometimes conflicting mandates involved in aquaculture planning, management and decision-making. Such circumstances can lead to incoherence in strategic and operational policy and ineffective or sub-optimal management frameworks for sustainable aquaculture development.

While some jurisdiction struggle to institute equitable policy frameworks to govern a rapidly-growing aquaculture sector, others have benefited from years of experience. By looking back to comprehend valuable lessons learned, one can benchmark against well-performing jurisdictions to help develop appropriate governance frameworks tailored specifically to the needs of specific jurisdictions.

Canadian Aquaculture Systems has developed the Living Policy Framework for Sustainable Aquaculture Development to establish a systematic approach for assessing the effectiveness of policy and management frameworks for aquaculture. The Framework provides a dynamic approach to the development and implementation of policy, programs and regulation which enables new knowledge from research, monitoring and practical experience to be readily incorporated into practice. It reflects the fact that aquaculture has and will continue to develop under dynamic and evolving social, environmental and economic circumstances and of necessity will require continuous adaptation in policy and program approaches. The living policy framework can be used to describe aquaculture governance systems and support programs and to assess their effectiveness. It can also be used to guide the development of new policy frameworks in jurisdictions that are preparing for sustainable growth in the sector.

The triple bottom line defines three inter-related dimensions of developmental performance - environmental responsibility, economic viability and social well-being. These dimensions are often referred to as the three Ps - planet, profits and people. They are fundamental and inextricably linked to sustainable development; that is, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Living Policy Framework for Sustainable Aquaculture Development