DFO application review process
DFO assesses the following criteria in its review of all new aquaculture licence applications or amendments to existing licences.
- History of the operation (for amendments)
- This includes past and current licensing information, such as production, species and containment array structures.
- Environmental factors
- DFO considers the proximity of sites to areas of environmental concern, including glass sponge reefs, eel grass and kelp beds, wild fish spawning areas, conservation areas and habitat critical to species at risk. Conditions such as ocean currents, water depth and seabed characteristics (e.g., sediments, gravel, rock) are examined to minimize potential environmental impacts.
- Introductions and transfers
- The Introductions and Transfers Committee (ITC) reviews the species requested on an aquaculture application. If a species has been previously approved for culture, the ITC identifies general and species-specific requirements to ensure that ecological, fish health and genetic impacts from the introduction and transfer of fish and shellfish, both into and between facilities, would not adversely affect local aquatic species and habitats.
- Resource management
- Applications are reviewed for any potential overlaps with existing wild First Nations, commercial or recreational fisheries. Applications can be denied if it is determined that the operation would pose significant negative impact to existing fisheries.
- DFO has a legal duty to consult First Nations on any licensing decision that might adversely affect established or claimed Aboriginal title or other Aboriginal rights within claimed traditional territory. Unless the application is for an administrative change or a minor change that does not alter operations or impacts, the Department sends information packages to the relevant First Nation and considers any comments or concerns submitted in response.
- DFO may also consult with other federal departments, including Transport Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and with the province of B.C. All comments received from environmental non-government organizations, recreational boating or fishing organizations, and other groups are also considered.
- Policy considerations
- DFO ensures that application decisions align with federal policies associated with aquaculture activities.
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