As part of our mission to enhance public knowledge about environmental law in Atlantic Canada, East Coast Environmental Law maintains a free Environmental Law Inquiry Service. Through this service, we aim to provide general information about environmental law to members of the public who request our assistance.

As an environmental law charity, our capacity to respond to inquiries is limited, and this service is not designed to provide tailored legal advice.

By submitting an Inquiry Intake Form, you are not creating a lawyer-client relationship or retaining East Coast Environmental Law as your legal counsel. We are not responsible for any deadlines or limitation periods that may be associated with your legal issue: the responsibility to meet such deadlines or limitation periods is yours alone.

Describing your issue in detail will help us to determine whether, and in what capacity, we may be able to assist you. We will not disclose the information you provide unless you consent to its release, but you should not provide confidential or otherwise sensitive personal information through our online form.

If you have an environmental law inquiry, please use our Inquiry Intake Form



Funding from the Nova Scotia Law Foundation supports our capacity to provide general legal information to individuals and community groups throughout Nova Scotia.

ECELAW joins its voice to the multitude of Canadians who believe that all humans have the right to live in a healthy environment.  We believe that healthy people and healthy communities depend on healthy environments.  Clean air, unpolluted water, and vibrant ecosystems are our foundation. 

ECELAW recently released A Citizen’s Guide to Wetland Conservation in the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Guide provides Halifax residents with legal information about protecting wetlands, walking readers through steps to determine whether a development on or near a wetland is lawful.

How and to what extent is Nova Scotia’s Environment Act enforced? What information is publicly available to assess environmental law enforcement in Nova Scotia?



Aquaculture has a long history in Nova Scotia, but its evolution to commercial aquaculture has been fairly rapid over the past three decades. Finfish (primarily Atlantic salmon) is the highest revenue-generating form of aquaculture in the province and the open-net style of production it relies upon raises the greatest environmental concerns. ECELAW works with a variety of groups and concerned citizens to increase the understanding of aquaculture regulation and how it can be improved by incorporating community knowledge and better environmental protection.

This paper outlines and evaluates statutory means of recognizing environmental rights in the Province of Nova Scotia. Drawing on the experience and debate surrounding statutory environmental rights both in Ontario and at the federal level, it articulates a number of possible procedural and substantive environmental provisions. The lessons from these jurisdictions are examined and integrated into Nova Scotia specific legal and political considerations. Its open-ended articulation of potential environmental rights provisions, which could be enacted as either an Environmental Bill of Rights or through incremental statutory reform, seeks to provide a baseline range of possibilities to inform future law reform efforts in the province.

On May 1st, 2013 Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister, Sterling Belliveau, announced a plan to develop a new regulatory framework for the aquaculture industry in the province. This plan includes an extensive public consultation and information gathering process carried out by an independent two-person panel made up of Dalhousie law professors Meinhard Doelle and Bill Lahey. ECELAW has been participating in the public consultation and is available to assist other groups and organizations seeking to participate. 

At the end of the process the Panel will submit to government an Aquaculture Regulatory Framework that will cover three themes: (1) sustainable-development; (2) social well-being; and (3) economic opportunity. The Panel has been given 12 to 18 months to complete consultations and research, and to report its findings. As one of the first steps, the Panel has been hosting community meetings across Nova Scotia to outline the process and identify issues and public concerns.

The mission and vision of ECELAW includes the development and fair application of innovative environmental laws for Atlantic Canadians. Providing input to the proposed regulatory framework for aquaculture in Nova Scotia fits with the ECELAW mandate. To that end, we will endeavor to participate in the process and provide support to other groups and organizations seeking to participate.

ECELAW has attended several community meetings to:

  • Introduce the organization and inform attendees on services ECELAW offers;
  • Provide information on ECELAW's capacity to assist individuals and community groups and to respond to inquiries concerning aquaculture regulation and the regulatory review process;
  • Encourage a review process that is open and transparent;
  • Provide general information on aquaculture regulation;
  • Contribute to the identification of issues; and
  • Hear issues and concerns identified by others attending the meetings.

ECELAW will continue to engage in the regulatory review process as it progresses over the next year. ECELAW is seeking to input directly to the process through the proposed Round Table discussions, and to lend our support to community groups and to the broader environmental community by providing legal information and tools that might enhance their capacity to participate in the review process. For more information on the Aquaculture Regulatory Review, click here.

Please contact ECELAW if you or an environmental or community-based group you are part of is seeking legal information or support to assist your participation in the regulatory review process. In addition, feel free to be in touch with ECELAW if you have questions concerning the current regulation of aquaculture in Canada, the regulatory review process, or environmental law in general.

Contact us at:
[email protected] or (902) 489-7997

On May 1, 2013, ECELAW released its report entitled, Aquaculture Regulation in Nova Scotia: Overview of the Regulatory Framework and Considerations for Regulatory Reform.  The report, prepared by Lisa J. Mitchell, highlights the strong need for appropriate regulation of the aquaculture industry to ensure that it operates sustainably, especially where the government supports industry growth. This Report provides an outline of the industry in Nova Scotia and an overview of the current federal and provincial regulatory framework. The Report identifies seven specific areas of consideration in the context of strengthening provincial regulation to make the industry more environmentally sustainable. This Report does not provide an in-depth analysis of aquaculture regulation in Nova Scotia; rather it provides an overview to serve as a foundation for that analysis, discussion and future regulatory reform. 

ECELAW wishes to thank the Sage Environmental Program for funding this important Report.

To listen to an interview with environmental lawyer Lisa Mitchell regarding ECELAW's report on aquaculture regulation, please see the following link: http://habitatradio.ca/.