Aquaculture Regulation and Enforcement Activities

logo: Aquaculture regulation and enforcement

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) regulates the aquaculture industry in British Columbia, including marine finfish, shellfish and freshwater/land-based operations.

Enforcement Approach

In B.C., Conservation and Protection (C&P) fishery officers perform three enforcement activities:

  1. Education and Shared Stewardship
    • The Department promotes compliance with the Fisheries Act and other related acts and regulations through education and awareness activities directed at both industry and the public. 
    • Public education and awareness activities encourage Canadians to protect fishery resources and habitats. (see Observe, Record, Report for more information)
  2. Monitoring, Control and Surveillance
    • Enforcement activities are carried out by fishery officers who conduct regular patrols on the land, on the sea and in the air. Fishery officers conduct inspections to validate licence reporting, and to determine compliance with aquaculture licences, conditions of licence and other applicable legislation.
  3. Investigations
    • Fishery officers respond to complaints and conduct investigations.

Additional information about fishery officer duties

Three C&P vessels are used by DFO’s aquaculture fishery officers to conduct site inspections and, as needed, to enforce compliance with the Fisheries Act, the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations and other related acts and regulations:

  • The MacLeod Bay
  • The Weaver Bay
  • The Max Bay

The Macleod Bay

The Weaver Bay

The Max Bay

The MacLeod Bay, a 9.7-metre 320 SuperMax rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB), built by Titan Inflatables Ltd. of Sidney, B.C., is named for J. Ronald MacLeod, a former DFO employee and Officer of the Order of Canada recognized for his contributions to Pacific fisheries.

The Weaver Bay, a 9.7-metre 320 SuperMax RHIB, built by Titan Inflatables Ltd. of Sidney, B.C., is named after Kenneth E. Weaver, a Pacific Region fishery officer who died in an airplane accident in the line of duty September 2, 1948.

The Max Bay, a six-metre aluminum vessel built in Port Alberni, B.C., by Kamma Blake Industries, is named for Max Tscharre, a well-respected retired fishery officer dedicated to the protection of fish and fish habitat.

How You Can Get Involved

To assist fishery officers in identifying compliance issues that warrant investigation the public must be aware and involved. Visit Observe, Record, Report to learn how to report your concerns to the Department.

DFO appreciates your support and involvement.

Audit and Monitoring Activities

The Department focuses its audit, monitoring and surveillance activities on developing a comprehensive understanding of the operational performance of the aquaculture industry, in order to assess its current regulatory approach and to inform future decisions. The results of site inspections and technical audits are analyzed and reported online to provide the public with an accurate view of the environmental and operational performance of the industry, and to validate publicly-available data reported by licence holders.

Site visits are conducted throughout the year by fishery officers and Aquaculture Environmental Operations veterinarians, biologists, fish health technicians and resource managers.

Site visit objectives include:

  • assessing compliance with Conditions of Licence*:
    • complete and accurate paperwork;
    • no culturing of unlicensed species;
    • review of licensed boundaries and appropriate markings;
    • appropriate storage and tagging of products;
    • compliance with Fish Health Management Plans;
    • site debris is being managed appropriately;
    • complete and accurate containment array plans, marine mammal management plans, fish escape prevention plans, and adequate screening of surface waters;
  • conducting fish health and sea lice audits;  
  • assessing the effects on the surrounding environment, including benthic (seabed) surveys at marine finfish sites and determining build-up of shell debris occurring on the sea bed (shellfish sites);
  • conducting watershed surveys to search for the presence of escaped farm salmon; and
  • fishery officers responding to reported concerns from the public or from other DFO staff.

*assessment activities vary based on the Conditions of Licence for each sector (marine finfish, freshwater/land based, shellfish and enhancement)

Data on the operational performance of the aquaculture industry in B.C.

Activities are coordinated between DFO Conservation and Protection officers and Aquaculture Environmental Operations staff to reduce duplication of efforts and to ensure that bio-security protocols are respected.

In 2011, the first year of the B.C. Aquaculture Regulatory Program, monitoring activities focused on establishing protocols and standard operating procedures for conducting site inspections and technical audits.

In 2012, the goal for the year was to visit as many sites as possible to assess the overall level of compliance with the Conditions of Licence at marine finfish, freshwater and shellfish aquaculture sites. In 2012 C&P staff alone dedicated more than 11,626 hours to monitoring the aquaculture industry.

DFO’s compliance monitoring program has found that overall compliance with Conditions of Licence is high. Moving forward, Aquaculture Management staff will focus on targeting specific areas of concern.

In 2013, as C&P shifted towards a priority/risk-based inspection program, there was a greater emphasis on shellfish compliance monitoring by fishery officers. In the areas of marine and freshwater finfish, targets for environmental operation site visit remained consistent with previous years. C&P staff dedicated approximately 12 000 hours to directly monitoring the aquaculture industry in 2013.  

Three made-in-B.C. vessels are used by DFO’s Aquaculture Environmental Operations team to carry out these activities.

  • The Salmon Bay, a nine-metre vessel powered by twin 330HP diesel inboard engines based in Campbell River
  • The Oyster Bay, a six-metre welded aluminum vessel powered by twin 90HP outboard engines, based in Courtenay
  • The Sturgeon Bay, an eight-metre welded aluminum vessel powered by twin 220HP diesel inboard engines, based in Tofino
Photo: the Oyster Bay

The Oyster Bay

The Salmon Bay and the Sturgeon Bay are designed to deploy ocean-bottom sampling equipment, such as grab samplers and remote operated vehicles for conducting benthic assessments at marine finfish sites. Both vessels have an onboard work station that supports some field testing as well as the collection of samples for further analysis. They also conduct marine finfish facility inspections and fish health inspections. 

The Oyster Bay is the smallest of the three vessels and is used primarily for shellfish facility inspections and fish health and sea lice monitoring.

Photo: the Salmon Bay and the Sturgeon Bay vessels

The Salmon Bay and the Sturgeon Bay