British Columbia introductions and transfers



The BC Introductions and Transfers Committee (ITC) is responsible for reviewing applications for introductions and certain transfers of live aquatic organisms into fish rearing facilities or fish bearing waters of British Columbia. These movements could affect the ability of native wild or cultured fish to maintain healthy productive populations.

The ITC is a joint federal-provincial committee comprising members from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the BC Ministry of Environment and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The committee considers all live fish, including all life stages of marine and freshwater finfish, molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms and marine mammals. Species not within the scope of the committee include amphibians, reptiles, live baitfish and live aquatic organisms for the table market, aquarium and pond trades (except in circumstances where the species is prohibited under the Pacific Fishery Regulations Section 5, Schedule VIII Prohibited Import Live Fish List).

When applying for an aquaculture licence, a separate introductions and transfers application must also be submitted, prior to stocking, to seek approval to introduce or transfer fish or aquatic invertebrates to the proposed aquaculture facility. Proponents should apply for approval early in the aquaculture application process to ensure their proposed aquaculture species will be authorized.

Upon recommendation for approval by the ITC, an introductions and transfers licence, under authority of Section 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulations, is issued for the activity.

About the committee

Established in 1993, the committee’s goal is to ensure that aquatic ecosystems are properly protected while encouraging responsible use of aquatic resources.

Key questions considered by the committee for a release or transfer include:

  • Is the request in keeping with the proper management and control of fisheries?
  • Do the fish have any disease or disease agent(s) that could harm local fish stocks?
  • Will the fish introduction or transfer have an adverse effect on local fish stocks?

During the review process, appropriate subject matter experts from DFO and BC including resource managers, stock assessment officers, biologists, habitat managers and legal counsel may be consulted for additional information or independent opinion


The ITC is bound by existing government legislation and policies regarding movements of live fish into and within the province of BC. Key regulations affecting the introductions and transfer process include:


Other regulations, policies and guidelines

The committee refers to other regulations, policies and guidelines for guidance when assessing risks or identifying mitigation measures, including:

When to apply

When to apply for an introductions and transfers licence

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 BC.
  • Any movement of live freshwater fish as regulated under the Freshwater Fish Regulation of the BC Wildlife Act. (Does not include goldfish or ornamental tropical fish.)
  • Any movement of fish into a research/educational facility where at least one of the following applies:
    • the effluent is discharged near or into natural bodies of water in BC
    • there is culturing/grow out activity
    • fish are not isolated from other aquatic organisms
    • fish will not be destroyed at the end of the research project
  • Any movement of salmonids or shellfish between licenced aquaculture facilities in different salmonid or shellfish 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 movement of live fish outside British Columbia into other Canadian provinces or territories (the appropriate provincial orterritorial IT representative must be contacted to fulfill requirements for licensing in the receiving province or territory).
  • Any import or transfer of fish species listed under the following regulations (an introductions and transfers licence will not be authorized for this activity):
  • Any export of fish out of BC (with the exception of freshwater fish, which requires a provincial permit authorization under the Freshwater Fish Regulation of the BC Wildlife Act)
  • Most movements of fish for the purpose of reselling to the table market, reselling for the aquarium or pond trade, hobby aquaria, and home-based aquaponics systems with no intention of selling. (Some exceptions apply; please contact us for further information.)
  • Where a federal aquaculture licence has been issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and certain movements of live fish within the same salmonid or shellfish transfer zone are authorized under the conditions of licence. (These movements were formerly authorized under Form A licences.)
Application form and process

Application form and process

To harmonize regulatory requirements under federal and provincial legislation, the introductions and transfers application form has been revised to include the following components

  • Access to wild aquatic resources for the purpose of aquaculture (federal)
  • Introductions and transfers (federal/provincial)
  • Transfers of freshwater fish (provincial)

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

All supporting required documentation (e.g. health certification, federal and provincial approvals, project proposals, etc.) should be provided at the 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 ITC will provide feedback regarding an application within 10 business days from the time the acknowledgement notice has been sent.)

Each application is reviewed under three main categories of effect:

  • Genetic: effects on the capacity of native species to maintain and transfer their current genetic identity and diversity to successive generations
  • Ecosystem: effects on the distribution and abundance of native species resulting from alterations in relationships such as predation, and food and habitat availability
  • Disease: effects on the incidence, distribution and/or impact of pathogens and parasites on native species

Applications recommended for approval will be issued an introductions and transfers licence, and/or a freshwater transport authorization and/or access to wild aquatic resources licence. These authorizations must be on hand during the collection or transfer activity.

Contact us for further information regarding the application process or to submit your access or transfer application.

Wild aquatic resources

Collection of wild aquatic resources

Fisheries and Oceans Canada issues licences to collect fish for experimental, scientific, educational, public display or aquaculture purposes. A valid permit for collection and corresponding introductions and transfers licence (depending on activity) must be obtained prior to collection and transfer of fish.

If you are requesting collection of fish within BC, please select the most appropriate scenario and follow the corresponding licensing requirements:

  1. For collection of marine fish for:
    1. Experimental, scientific, educational or public display purposes:
      1. Obtain a valid scientific collection permit and
      2. Obtain a valid introductions and transfers licence (if applicable – See When to Apply for an introductions and transfers licence)
    2. Aquaculture purposes:
      1. Obtain a valid access permit (fill out Section 4 of introductions and transfer application form) and
      2. Obtain a valid introductions and transfers licence

        For further information, see the Policy for Access to Wild Aquatic Resources as it Applies to Aquaculture.

        For further inquiries relating to Access to wild aquatic resources for aquaculture purposes, please contact:
  2. For collection of freshwater fish (does not include anadromous fish; these are fish that have spent part of their lifecycle in the ocean, like salmon) for :
    1. Educational or scientific purposes
      1. Obtain a valid fish collection permit issued through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and
      2. Obtain a valid introductions and transfers licence (if applicable – See When to Apply for an introductions and transfers licence)

Applicants planning to carry out activities that may impact an aquatic species that is protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) will require a SARA collection permit (referred to as a Section 73 permit).

Additional information on how to obtain a SARA permit for aquatic species


Importing into British Columbia

In addition to a valid introductions and transfers licence, international imports of fish into BC may require an import permit from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). On December 10, 2011, amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations came into force to further prevent the introduction of serious aquatic animal diseases into Canada. The CFIA is the lead federal authority responsible for administration and enforcement of these regulations.

The Health of Animals Regulations only apply to species listed in Schedule III. Regardless of whether an aquatic animal (finfish, molluscs and crustaceans) is listed in the Health of Animals Regulations, a valid introductions and transfers licence is required for all aquatic animals being transferred to a fish rearing facility or released into natural waters in BC. The licence must also be presented upon request by a border official or fishery officer. Please note that species listed under Section 5, Schedule VIII of the Pacific Fisheries Regulations are prohibited from import into BC.

A valid introductions and transfers licence is required for all interprovincial movements (i.e., movements from other provinces into BC). The CFIA also plays a role in regulating these domestic movements through the domestic component of the National Aquatic Animal Health Program.

Importers are responsible for complying with all federal, provincial, territorial and municipal requirements for the aquatic animals being imported.

For additional information about the CFIA permit requirements, please contact the CFIA Animal Health Office.

Low risk species

Low risk species for introduction and transfer to aquaculture facilities

The species listed have been deemed low risk for movements to licensed aquaculture facilities (i.e., 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

Note: This list has been developed by the Introductions and Transfers Committee with respect to assessment of 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

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

*Any species not included in the above list will require an in-depth review and/or risk analysis by the Introductions and Transfers Committee.

Contact us

Contact us

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

ITC Coordinator

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • #200- 401 Burrard Street
  • Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4
  • Phone: 604-666-5519
  • Fax: 604-666-1076
  • Email:

Questions regarding access to wild aquatic resources for aquaculture purposes: