Introductions and Transfers

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) regulates the aquaculture industry in British Columbia so that the introduction and transfer of fish and shellfish into and between facilities does not adversely affect local aquatic species and habitats. Introductions and transfers of fish to and from aquaculture facilities may be required to introduce new stock, facilitate growth of the fish at different life stages and to optimize the production capabilities of facilities.

Distinct shellfish and salmonid transfer zones have been established to manage the movement of fish and shellfish within the province and introductions from other provinces or outside of Canada. Maps of these zones are available here.

Aquaculture licences issued under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations generally allow for certain movements of licensed species of fish and shellfish within zones subject to the condition of licence, while transfers across zones require a separate licence issued by the Introduction and Transfers Committee (ITC).

For geoduck and sea cucumber, an Introductions and Transfers Licence is required even for within zone transfer activities such as taking broodstock to the hatchery or planting juvenile stock on the licensed tenure.

The general conditions governing transfers carried out by marine finfish and shellfish cultivators are laid out in the Finfish Conditions of Licence and the Shellfish Conditions of Licence.

Aquaculture operators must meet the conditions set out in their licences to ensure that the licensing requirements of s. 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulations are met. DFO’s current Conditions of Licence require marine finfish cultivators to report all transfer events to the Department, and to keep on-site and available for inspection by DFO records confirming that the conditions governing transfers were met. Shellfish facility operators must notify the Department of outside/across zone transfers, and to keep records of all outside/across zone and within zone transfers (to be produced upon request).

The federal-provincial ITC reviews applications to assess risks for possible disease, ecological and genetic effects on native species and ecosystems, and to ensure that the licensing requirements of s. 56 of the Fishery (General) Regulations are met. When issuing a licence, the ITC may also prescribe certain measures to minimize risks associated with transfer activities (e.g. egg disinfection, quarantine of stock).

Fish Transfer Activities in BC