Agriculture and aquaculture environments
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In a sustainable development perspective and to preserve resources such as water, soil and biodiversity, a balance must be struck between the natural environment and the development of various sectors of economic activity, including agriculture and aquaculture.
Some agriculture and aquaculture activities, such as fish farming and fishing ponds, are sources of occasional or diffuse pollution of aquatic ecosystems. The magnitude of the pollution varies considerably in accordance with the type of activity and the size and location of the operation. For example, some agricultural activities have direct (e.g.: contaminant discharge) and/or indirect (e.g.: soil erosion) impacts on water quality impairment. The cumulative impact of agricultural activities can sometimes generate pressure that exceeds ecosystem load capacity by altering natural dynamics in important ways.
In Québec, the environmental approach to agriculture and aquaculture is based on strict management of phosphorus at the individual company level.
With respect to agriculture, the Agricultural Operations Regulation or AOR aims at achieving a better balance between fertilizer phosphorus contributions and plant nutrient requirements at a given agricultural operation. It also seeks to ensure appropriate management of manure in animal-raising operations and during storage, in order to reduce environmental impacts.
This section summarizes current agriculture environmental standards and specifies which owners are required to submit a Phosphorus Report. It lists which activities require a Certificate of Authorization or Project Notice and specifies which forms are to be used. In addition, the section contains information about the various agricultural environment domains in which the Ministère acts, whether or not action is regulatory in nature, and sets out best environmental protection practices.
With respect to aquaculture, a number of oversight tools are in use, including an environmental analysis grid for fish farms that is based on total phosphorus discharge. The main objective of this grid is to achieve adequate management of phosphorus in fish farming effluent, based on the load capacity of the aquatic receiving environment. In addition, in order to reduce the environmental impact of aquaculture operations, the tools aim at the use of appropriate treatment systems and adequate management of aquaculture sludge.
This section also provides information on the freshwater aquaculture sector. It sets out the regulatory environmental and wildlife protection provisions that apply to infrastructure used for the production of certain fish species in land-based environments. The reduction of phosphorus in fish farm effluent discharged into receiving mediums and the appropriate reuse of recovered sludge containing phosphorus are the main problems targeted by the Ministère’s intervention for this type of production.