Public Reporting on Aquaculture - Incidental Catch

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO’s) Conditions of Licence for finfish aquaculture require facility operators to maintain an incidental catch log. This information is submitted to DFO and public reports are posted to this website quarterly.

The tables provided list the reported incidental catch of wild finfish from B.C. marine finfish facilities during harvest and transfer events; data is reported in the quarter in which the harvest activities ended. Incidental catch data from regular mortality retrieval on farms is also submitted to the Department.

About incidental catch

Wild fish naturally swim into net pens at aquaculture facilities and can co-exist with farmed fish. There is past and on-going research to determine to what extent wild fish are preyed upon within the net pens, but at this time predation appears to be minimal. In some cases, wild fish may grow too large to swim back out of the net pens and remain resident in the aquaculture facility. When the time comes for the harvest or transfer of farmed fish, these wild fish are identified as “incidental catch” if they are caught and killed along with farmed fish, as the aquaculture facility is not licensed for their cultivation or sale.   

Incidental by-catch and release of non-targeted species also occurs in other fisheries. DFO requires that finfish aquaculture licence holders take all reasonable measures to reduce the incidental catch of wild fish during farm operations.  These efforts include designing and using nets and other gear or equipment in a way that reduces the risk of incidental catch.

If incidental catch occurs, finfish licence holders must immediately return live fish to the waters outside the aquaculture facility in a manner that causes the least harm.  When mortalities occur, facility operators must take reasonable measures to retain dead wild finfish and must dispose of them in the same manner as dead cultivated stock. 

Reported incidental catch at B.C. marine finfish facilities

Data for any given quarter will not exist for farms that do not have fish on-site, where no incidentally caught fish were recorded, or where harvest or transfer activities did not occur during the reporting period.