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Aquaculture management decision-making


To provide an introductory overview of Ministerial powers and responsibilities with respect to aquaculture in Canada

Aquaculture in Canada: overview

Aquaculture regulation in Canada

Aquaculture management

Regulatory framework and policy initiatives

Aquaculture federally regulated under Fisheries Act, now pursuing an Aquaculture Act and consolidated and improved general aquaculture regulations (GAR).


Governance and collaboration

BC Aquaculture Regulatory Program

Aquaculture licences

Governance structure

  1. Initial review by federal-provincial project review team for show-stoppers
  2. In-depth review by DFO staff to assess potential impacts to other fisheries, First Nations, sensitive habitat, etc
  3. A risk assessment is conducted and summarized into a Summary and Recommendations document
  4. BCARP staff provide a recommendation to the Minister
  5. Ministerial decision (or delegated authority)

Across Canada

Governance structure

  1. Initial review by federal-provincial or federal-territorial Introduction and Transfer Committee (ITC)
  2. Most movements are low-risk and these licences are issued by an appropriate departmental representative
  3. If proposed movements may pose a medium- or high-risk, a formal risk assessment is required.
  4. ITCs provide the risk assessment and recommendation to the RDG or Minister based on level of risk
  5. Ministerial decision (or delegated authority)

Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology and Adoption Program (FACTAP)

National Contribution Program

Governance structure

  1. Proposal submitted by private sector or Indigenous applicant
  2. Initial review by Regional Program Coordinator
  3. Regional Program Review Committee (DFO, Province, other regional agencies e.g. ACOA)
  4. National Steering Committee Review / Approval (DG-level)
  5. Deputy Minister and Minister briefing / approval
  6. Contribution Agreement Prepared

Current priorities

Key initiatives will require Ministerial approval

Sustainable Aquaculture Program

Renewal of the Sustainable Aquaculture Program, which will sunset in March 2020.

Aquaculture Act

Develop a federal Aquaculture Act that: respects P/T jurisdiction; provides a foundation for enhanced legislative and regulatory rigour; clarity for stakeholders; and, additional certainty, which is an important precondition to fostering investment.

General Aquaculture Regulations (GAR)

Develop the GAR that will streamline and improve existing aquaculture regulatory requirements under the Fisheries Act into one comprehensive set of aquaculture-specific regulations.

Indigenous Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Body

Consider recommendations from the Indigenous Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Body and the technical working groups, expected in early 2020.

Annex: Regulatory responsibilities

  1. Aquaculture Activities Regulations (clarifies conditions under which aquaculture operators may treat their fish for disease and parasites, as well as deposit organic matter)
  2. Pacific Aquaculture Regulations (sets out aquaculture licensing and management in British Columbia where DFO is the principal regulator)
  3. Fishery (General) Regulations (regulates release of fish into fish habitat and transfer of live fish to rearing facilities)
  4. Marine Mammal Regulations (authorizes measures to control mammals such as nuisance seals)
  5.  Atlantic Fisheries Regulations and Maritime Provinces Fisheries Regulations (regulates size and harvest seasons – aquaculture is currently subject to these wild capture regulations)
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