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Licences for introductions and transfers

Releasing live fish into fish habitat or transferring live fish to any fish rearing facility without a licence contravenes the Fishery (General) Regulations and is an offence under the Fisheries Act subject to penalties and forfeitures.

When an introduction or transfer licence is required

Fisheries and Oceans Canada issues licences under Section 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulations to authorize the intentional release and transfer of live aquatic organisms into fish-bearing waters or fish-rearing facilities in all provinces and territories, except Quebec (in freshwater), Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta where provincial officials authorize those activities.

A licence is not required for*:

  • Dead fish
  • Fish that is immediately returned to the waters in which it was caught
  • Live fish for the food trade**
  • Aquarium and water garden trade**
  • Bait**

* Even if a licence is not required, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) may have additional requirements for both live and dead fish movements under the National Aquatic Animal Health Program. Other federal, provincial, and municipal requirements may also apply. In some cases, fees are associated with these authorizations.

** Some provincial and territorial jurisdictions have restrictions and/or authorization requirements. For more information, you should contact the introductions and transfers Committee representing the aquatic organisms’ final destination.


There is no application fee for a licence, however, there may be costs associated with obtaining information requested by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to support the assessment of the application.

Service standards

Introductions and transfers Committees aim to process licence applications within 35 working days starting from the day that all the required information has been received from the applicant. Individual Committees may set shorter service delivery times as standards for their jurisdiction. Delays may be experienced in certain cases, such as when a comprehensive risk assessment or consultations with other stakeholders are required. Introductions and transfers program detailed service standards and corresponding performance information for licences issued under Section 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulations are available online.

Streamlining licensing

Licences can be sought for a single movement or for multiple movements over a designated period of time for the equivalent amount. Several species can also be included in a single licence. To confirm whether a streamlining option is available for a particular request, please contact the Introductions and Transfers Committee representing the aquatic organisms’ final destination.

Obtaining introductions and transfers licences

Individuals seeking a licence to move aquatic organisms within a province, between provinces, or into Canada must obtain application information from the Introductions and Transfers Committee in the province or territory representing the aquatic organisms’ final destination. The Introductions and Transfers Committees will help guide applicants on necessary authorizations or permissions required to carry out a specific request.

Licensing requirements specific to BC

When to apply for an introductions and transfers licence in British Columbia

Generally, a BC introductions and transfers licence IS required for:

  • Any movement of live fish into or within British Columbia to a fish-rearing facility or release into natural waters of British Columbia.
  • Any movement of live freshwater fish as regulated under the Freshwater Fishing Regulation of the BC Wildlife Act. (Does not include goldfish or ornamental tropical fish.)
  • Any movement of fish into a research/educational facility:
    • where the effluent is discharged near or into natural bodies of water in BC, and/or
    • where there is culturing/grow out activity, and/or
    • where fish are not isolated from other aquatic organisms, and/or
    • where fish will not be destroyed at the end of the research project.
  • Any movements of salmon between licensed aquaculture facilities and any movements of shellfish across transfer zones.
  • Any other movement of fish not covered under the federal aquaculture conditions of licence (e.g.: transfers of non-salmonid marine finfish species).

Generally, a BC introductions and transfers licence is NOT required for any export of fish out of BC (with the exception of freshwater fish which will require a provincial permit authorization under the Freshwater Fishing Regulation of the BC Wildlife Act) or where the movement is authorized as part of the conditions of an existing aquaculture licence.  An appropriate Provincial/Territorial IT representative in the destination province/territory must be contacted to fulfill requirements in that region.

Application form for British Columbia

Applications should be submitted at least one month before the date of the proposed collection and/or movement of aquatic organisms to allow ample opportunity for the Introductions and Transfers Committee to review. Applications are addressed on a first come, first served basis and may not meet proposed timeframes.

All supporting documentation (e.g. federal and provincial approvals, project proposals, etc.) that is required should be provided at time of application submission. If documentation is missing, applicants will be contacted by an officer to provide the missing information, which may delay the assessment of an application.

The Committee operates under a 10 business day service standard, from the time the acknowledgement notice has been sent, to provide feedback regarding an application.

Approved applications will be issued an introductions and transfers licence and/or any other necessary permits and authorizations. All authorizations must be on hand during the collection and/or transfer activity.

For further information regarding the application process or to submit your access and/or transfer application, please contact:

BC ITC Coordinator
Department of Fisheries and Oceans 
#200- 401 Burrard Street 
Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4
Phone: 604-666-5519 

Low risk species for introductions and transfers to British Columbia

The following list of species has been deemed low risk for movements to licensed BC aquaculture facilities from local sources (e.g. no additional site specific conditions or mitigation measures required); however, applications may require further review depending on scope and nature of aquaculture activity. In these instances, applicants will be contacted directly by the Introductions and Transfers Committee and provided further direction.

Any species not included in the lists below require an in-depth review and/or risk analysis by the BC Introductions and Transfers Committee.

Note: This list has been developed with respect to potential disease, genetic, and ecological risks and does not necessarily represent species authorized for cultivation under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations. Applicants are responsible for securing all necessary permits and licences prior to engaging in any aquaculture activities.

  Common Name  Scientific Name
1 Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar
2 Black Cod Anaplopoma fimbria
3 Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
4 Coho Salmon  Oncorhynchus kisutch
5 Pacific Halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis
6 Pilchard Sardinops sagax
7 Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
8 Rockfish Sebastes spp
9 Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka
  Common Name  Scientific Name
1 Butter Clam Saxidomus giganteus
2 Dungeness Crab Cancer magister
3 Eastern Blue Mussel Mytilus edulis
4 Gallo Mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis
5 Giant Rock Scallop Crassadoma gigantea
6 Horse Clam Tresus capax
7 Hybrid Pacific Scallop Patinopecten caurinus x yessoensis
8 Japanese Scallop Mizuhopecten yessoensis
9 Littleneck Clam Protothaca staminea
10 Manila Clam Venerupis philippinarum
11 Pacific Oyster Crassostrea gigas
12 Pacific Scallop Patinopecten x
13 Pink Scallop Chlamys rubida
14 Sea Scallop Placopecten magellanicus
15 Spiny Scallop Chlamys hastata
16 Weathervane Scallop Patinopecten caurinus
17 Western Blue Mussel Mytilus trossulus
18 Eastern Oyster Crassostrea virginica
19 European Oyster Ostrea edulis
Freshwater and Land-Based
Freshwater and Land-Based
  Common Name  Scientific Name
1 Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar
2 Black Cod Anaplopoma fimbria
3 Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
4 Coastal and Anadromous Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii
5 Coho Salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch
6 Lingcod Ophiodon elongatus
7 Pacific Halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis
8 Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
9 Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka

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