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Social Licence & Planning in Coastal Communities

This research project will partner with industry, government, and community stakeholders in four communities that are home to aquaculture production sites — one in Nova Scotia and three in Newfoundland and Labrador — to increase understanding of the social licence in aquaculture. It will produce a framework for societally-endorsed, sustainable aquaculture, with targeted information for eastern Canada, and broader conclusions with global applicability.

About the research

Social licence relates to the importance of community engagement in the process of local resource development. In particular, it can include ensuring local participation, increased jobs and training, and community benefit.

In the case of aquaculture, social licence is not limited to the communities in which there is aquaculture production; instead, it extends to:

  • aquaculture feed production,
  • commercial fishing and interactions with aquaculture production, and
  • consumers and others with the ability to influence aquaculture-related decisions who live all around the world.   
Obtaining social licence is fundamental to ensuring the success of an industry. Canada is experiencing rapid growth of the aquaculture sector, increasing the urgency of improved understanding and application of social licence principles — and adding immediate benefits.

This research will investigate social licence in aquaculture relating to societal perceptions of legitimacy, credibility, and trust in aquaculture. It will work with industry and stakeholders at multiple levels to understand better and predict the outcomes of social license by integrating the full suite of factors that affect social licence. 

This research is divided into five projects:

1.  Global leadership in the theory and practice of societally-endorsed, sustainable aquaculture

This project will review current social licence practices across multiple sectors, develop and test a state-of-the-art social licence framework, creating a new paradigm for aquaculture social license, regulation, and resource sharing in coastal communities.

2.  Occupational health and safety in aquaculture

This project will help us to better anticipate and address health and safety hazards in aquaculture-related work, on the water and the coast, and in interactions between aquaculture and other marine uses.

3.  Aquaculture-community dynamics

This project focuses on aquaculture-community dynamics surrounding the escape of farmed fish, aquaculture waste and use of wild fish for feed. It will examine the relationship between aquaculture and commercial fishing.

4.  An operational model for finfish carrying capacity

This project will determine the density and number of finfish (such as salmon) that an aquaculture site can support.

5.  A marine spatial planning framework for societally-endorsed, sustainable aquaculture

This project will develop a framework for planning the location of sites for societally-endorsed, sustainable aquaculture.



PhD needed

The research team is seeking a Phd student with a background in community engagement to lead the Marine Spatial Planning portion of the project. Details about the opportunity and how to apply can be found here ...


Researchers recognized 

Assessing coastal restoration priorities across Nunavut

OFI researcher Lucia Fanning is leading a $1.9 million research project funded by the Government of Canada that will determine coastal restoration priorities across Nunavut, and restore three priority sites, including a low flow barrier to fish passage located on the Nilaqtarvik River near the community of Clyde River. The research team will work in partnership with the Government of Nunavut, hamlets and Hunter and trapper organizations in all 25 Nunavut communities to develop coastal restoration plans on a case-by-case basis.

“The importance of getting community insights into how the environment has been changing is critical to the success of this project,” says Dr. Fanning. “Understanding the connection between coastal habitat, climate change, fisheries and coastal communities is key to achieving the project’s goals.”

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Inducted to Engineering Institute of Canada

OFI researcher Faisal Khan was among 20 engineers inducted in 2018 as fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) for their exceptional contributions to the profession. Dr. Khan is head of the Department of Process Engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Offshore Safety and Risk Engineering. 

Since joining Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science in 2002 as an associate professor, Dr. Khan has conducted research on safety and risk engineering and applied these risk-engineering concepts to safety, asset integrity management, pollution prevention and renewable energy. His research contributions have received more than 15,000 citations in the technical literature.

Dr. Khan has developed new advanced risk-based safety and integrity management methodologies and models, which are widely used by industry and academia.