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Incidental catch at BC aquaculture facilities

Release date: July 2021
Infographic: Incidental catch at BC aquaculture facilities
Description: Incidental catch at BC aquaculture facilities

At marine finfish facilities in British Columbia, the nets used to contain farmed fish can allow wild fish to pass in and out of the farm. If wild fish are caught during aquaculture related activities, such as the harvest or transfer of fish, they are referred to as incidental catch. To manage this, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has strict requirements that facility operators must follow.

What does DFO require

Before harvest

Facilities must have mitigation measures in place to sort wild fish from farmed fish as well as limit harm to wild fish.

During harvest

Facilities must maintain records of all incidental catch.

Dead incidental catch must be disposed of by following  established protocols.

Living incidental catch must be immediately released in a manner which causes the least harm.

DFO Fishery Officers, or Fishery Guardians, perform inspections to observe and confirm that mitigation measures are properly implemented and appropriate records are  maintained. 

After harvest

Facilities must submit reports after harvest is complete. Facilities that grow fish year-round must submit reports annually. Data is summarized and publicly reported online. Overall, instances of incidental catch are very low and considered negligible in comparison to the allowable catch of BC's other fisheries.

On average, pacific herring account for the majority of annual incidental catch mortalities while pacific salmon account for the least

  • Pacific herring: 78%
  • Pacific salmon: 0.2%

The types of incidental catch

  • Herring

(Pacific Herring)

  • Cod
    • (Pacific cod, Pacific tomcod and walleye polluck)
  • Salmon
    • (pink, sockeye, chum, chinook and coho)
  • Surfperch
    • (shiner perch, striped seaperch, pile perch, etc.)
  • Rockfish
    • (black rockfish, copper rockfish, yellowtail rockfish, etc)
  • Other
    • Includes fish belonging to many different groups but all were reported in low quantity (Northern anchovy, sablefish, sculpin species, etc.)
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