"Current environment in coastal communities in eastern Cape Breton"


AOTC will strive to address past failures of regional planning and lack of adequate interjurisdictional collaboration which has contributed to the failure, collapse of or insufficient investment in necessary infrastructure.

This neglect has had negative impacts far beyond our coast, especially when viewed in the context of an island that is so reliant on tourism to support its economy.

The time has long passed for these issues to be addressed.

If we all wait passively for governments, and/or private industry to fix these deficiencies, the necessary interventions will be slow in coming or may come too late for some communities. For many coastal communities facing aging demographic realities, and out-migration, the passage of time is the enemy. For some fishing communities, the risks are existential.

AOTC’s goals and planning strategies go way beyond simple survivability for communities on our coast. We are dedicated to seeking solutions to provide for sustainable growth in the face of demographic, economic, and environmental challenges of the present. As planners, we need to anticipate predicted negative coastal impacts which may accelerate going forward.

AOTC’s strategic goal
The Restorative, Regenerative or Circular Economy
Please Note: To avoid confusion, in most cases current literature employs regenerative, circular and restorative interchangeably.

In these days there are many familiar and common themes, initiatives, organizational principles used every day to describe numerous programs and desired outcomes to plans for economic growth. Some have been around for a while, “Sustainable Communities, Integrated Coastal Zone Management” for instance, and others more recent, “Blue Economy”, “Carbon Neutral” and “Regenerate nature”.

What is a Circular, Regenerative or Restorative Economy?

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines Circular Economy:

“The circular economy is based on three principles, driven by design:

 1- Eliminate waste and pollution

 2 – Circulate products and materials (at their highest value)

“The circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.”

“It is underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials. A circular economy decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people and the environment.”

An economy based on restorative, regenerative or circular economic activities is an over-arching concept and a strategic goal. Many of its core principles are reflected in initiatives similar to those above. Many of them have been adopted by government and the private sector. What’s been missing is a consistent, integrative, inclusive, environmentally sound systems-based economic development approach.

AOTC supports the development of outcomes in Cape Breton based on the principles of ‘circular economics’. Our first community and economic development efforts are being focused on ‘Restorative’ or ‘Regenerative’ Aquaculture. Additional projects are in various planning stages. All of them are projects we see as steps along the way to supporting the development of a circular economy for Cape Breton.

AOTC has examined emerging trends in the fishing industry around the world. We support initiatives in fishing communities that are seeking economic development opportunities that offer resilience though diversification. Included in this range of options is the establishment of a new ocean resource-based industry ‘Restorative Ocean Farming’.

This is a keystone AOTC initiative. We are working with non-profit, educational, governmental, and fisheries sectors to explore local development of this new industry. Part of this effort is to establish community support for these efforts.

This process of securing ‘social license’ for this emerging business opportunity is being supported by a $50,000 USD grant from the U.S-based World Wildlife Fund. The grant is being administered by WWF Canada. In its advocacy efforts, AOTC will use the term ‘mariculture’ to distinguish this industry from fish farming.


blue economy