Towards a consensus building within Canada's aquaculture industry: Design of a framework for addressing conflict, information management and public consultation

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Canada’s aquaculture industry has been the focus of considerable conflict among stakeholders, including the federal and provincial government, industry, ENGOs, First Nations, communities, other industries and academia. This research addresses two issues in relation to this conflict: the need for consensus building among stakeholders in the aquaculture industry and the need for dispute prevention in the form of information dissemination and public consultation. Interviews, questionnaires and conversations with stakeholders were used in combination with existing literature to develop an understanding of the issues and the needs of stakeholders. On the basis of this and the consensus building literature, objectives for a consensus building and dispute prevention framework were developed. Barriers to the creation of this framework, including a lack of trust and political will, and industry concerns regarding privacy were also identified. The design for the consensus building and dispute prevention framework is comprised of three nodes: consensus building tools, technology solutions and policy and institutional change. Under the first node, a tool set was developed to aid in consensus building, while under the second node a Public Participation Geographic Information System (PPGIS) application was developed to meet information dissemination and public consultation needs. The tool set and the PPGIS application have been implemented through the design of a new authority, known as the Aquaculture Information and Mediation Board, to aid in mediation and consultation among stakeholders. Upon evaluating the framework design against the previously defined objectives and barriers, the consensus building and dispute prevention framework meets these criteria. It is recommended that a pilot study be conducted in Nova Scotia to further investigate the feasibility of this framework design.