Shellfish Aquaculture Licensing in BC

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for licensing all aquaculture facilities in B.C. The aquaculture licence and conditions of licence are designed to ensure the sustainable operation and development of shellfish aquaculture.

The following list is updated regularly to reflect changes in licence status. It provides assurance to shellfish processors that they are purchasing seafood from a legally licensed operation.

Reference Notes:

  • The Pacific Fishery Management Area Regulations describe the surf line and divide the Canadian fisheries waters of the Pacific Ocean into areas and sub-areas. The areas and sub-areas are often referenced when describing fishery openings and closures. Clicking on the area of interest will reveal a more detailed map illustrating the sub-areas.
  • Any shellfish aquaculture licence listed is authorized to harvest Varnish Clams (Nuttallia obscurata) within the licensed area unless that area is closed by Prohibition Order.
  • The Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) is delivered jointly by DFO, Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and contains measures to ensure that bivalve shellfish (i.e., oysters, clams, scallops and mussels) are safe for human consumption. Under this program, Conditional Management Plans are developed to allow shellfish harvesting in areas that may be periodically at risk for poor water quality. These plans clearly set out the circumstances which would trigger a temporary closure of the area to shellfish harvesting.

    In B.C. there are currently five Conditional Management Plans in effect. The first four cover harvest areas near wastewater treatment plants in Ladysmith, Chemainus, Crofton and French Creek. In these areas, the Conditional Management Plans are in effect to manage the potential risk of the release/discharge of wastewater materials beyond the normal operations of the treatment plant.

    The fifth Conditional Management Plan applies to shellfish harvesting in Baynes Sound; the most active shellfish aquaculture region in B.C. In the sound, water quality may be adversely affected when substantial amounts of rainfall occur over a relatively short period of time, which may lead to runoff from the upland areas, increasing contamination levels in the marine environment. Baynes Sound is divided into three different areas, with each having an established rainfall trigger amount for temporary shellfish harvesting closures.

DFO Contact

For general information about shellfish aquaculture licences please contact: