Notice of intent with respect to amendments to regulations affecting shellfish aquaculture in Atlantic Canada and Quebec

Current status: Closed


The purpose of this notice is to outline the intent of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to amend the Atlantic Fishery Regulations (AFR) and Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations (MPFR) in order to clarify federal rules applicable to the aquaculture industry and to remove unnecessary impediments for the shellfish aquaculture sector. These amendments would affect shellfish aquaculture in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

This notice does not replace prepublication of proposed regulations in Canada Gazette, Part I or DFO’s consultations with the affected and interested parties as part of the regulatory process.


In Canada, aquaculture takes place within a complex net of federal and provincial legislation. Under the Sustainable Aquaculture Program II, the department committed to modernizing and improving the aquaculture regulatory framework. As part of a broad aquaculture regulatory reform initiative, DFO’s goal is to address barriers to aquaculture industry growth while safeguarding the aquatic environment.

Both the AFR and MPFR were originally developed to regulate wild capture fisheries and to conserve wild fish stocks in the Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The provisions were not specifically designed to regulate cultured fish, although some are exempt from application of these regulations (i.e., cultured Atlantic salmon under the AFR and all cultivated fish except oysters under the MPFR).

Since these regulations do not currently accommodate standard/accepted aquaculture practices, some routine shellfish aquaculture activities, such as maintenance and harvesting activities, are inadvertently impacted by their application, resulting in unnecessary administrative and compliance issues for industry and enforcement issues for DFO.

Purpose and expected outcomes of proposed regulatory amendments

The department is proposing to amend the AFR and MPFR to exclude cultivated bivalve shellfish species from their application. More specifically, the proposed amendment would:

The purpose of the proposed regulatory amendments is to better reflect the current aquaculture operational context by allowing low-risk, routine shellfish aquaculture practices—currently constrained by the existing regulatory framework—to take place, thereby helping to enable the growth of shellfish aquaculture in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Further, the changes would not impede existing safeguards to prevent illegal harvesting of wild shellfish, which is key to managing sustainable fisheries and conserving wild fish populations.

Public comment period

Discussions with stakeholders commenced in fall 2017 and DFO is now seeking written comments.

All comments to this notice must be made by July 15, 2018 via e-mail ( or by writing to the address below:

c/o Aquaculture Management Directorate
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent Street, STN 14W087
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0E6