New Measures to Further Enforce PIIFCAF Policy

Effective July 24, 2015, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will undertake the following actions to further enforce the policy on Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries (PIIFCAF):

1. Targeted reviews using the existing policy

For the targeted review, the current PIIFCAF policy requires all inshore, vessel-based harvesters in Atlantic Canada and Quebec meet the eligibility criteria for Independent Core (IC) status — meaning licences must not be subject to a controlling agreement.  Licence holders suspected of not meeting IC status will be identified using a set of updated triggers and will be placed “Under Review”. Licence holders placed “Under Review” must demonstrate to DFO that they are eligible for IC status.

While “Under Review”, a licence holder can continue to fish, but DFO will not process, among other things:

  • Requests to file a new declaration
  • Requests to receive new or replacement licences
  • Requests to re-issue replacement vessel-based licences
  • Requests for quota transfers for more than one fishing season, including enterprise combining in the Newfoundland Region

Should DFO determine that a licence holder is not eligible for IC status, the licence holder will no longer be eligible to hold his or her vessel-based licence. These licence holders will have the option of appealing this decision to the Regional Licence Appeal Board, and ultimately the Atlantic Fisheries Licence Appeal Board (AFLAB), should they choose to. In cases of non-compliance, the licences will not be re-issued or renewed in subsequent years.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of possible indicators (triggers) that could result in a licence holder being categorized as “Under Review”: 

  • Admission by the licence holder of the existence of a controlling agreement, or that they do not “own” the licence
  • Admission by another party indicating that they are the ”owner” of a licence held by another individual
  • DFO is in possession of documents referring to a controlling agreement
  • The vessel registered with DFO by the licence holder is:
    • owned by another party
    • used by another licence holder for portions of the fishing season
    • owned by the representative that the licence holder has designated in the National Online Licensing System (NOLS)
    • moves frequently or routinely between harvesters and/or regions
  • The licence holder does not own a vessel and also requests a substitute operator
  • In Newfoundland region, licence holder requests a vessel lease and a substitute operator
  • Substitute operator is from outside the region of the requestor
  • The licence holder has identified a processor as their representative in NOLS
  • DFO receives information from a harvester that controlling agreements are prevalent in a particular fishery

2. Risk-based compliance reviews

DFO will also be implementing a risk-based compliance regime that would identify licence holders not compliant with PIIFCAF using the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) at the time of licence renewals. The sample size for the risk-based compliance review will be based on a stratified, random sample. If selected, a licence holder will be required to provide DFO with any documents related to the licence that may affect ownership or control of the licence. 

If no documents exist, an attestation must be provided by the licence holder stating this.  Note that DFO can still place a licence holder under review if it is still felt that a licence holder is unable to meet IC status. If, while reviewing documents, it is determined that a possible controlling agreement exists, the licence holder will be placed “Under Review” and will have their IC status revoked.

In addition, licence holders could potentially face charges of obstruction or providing false information as per section 63(2) of the Fisheries Act, false statements in a licence application, or section 63(3), providing false records.