A Guide to the Pacific Region License Appeal Process

Pacific Region License Appeal Board Mandate

The Minister established the Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board (PRLAB) in 1979 as the last administrative level of appeal for fishers who are dissatisfied with departmental licensing decisions made by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The PRLAB is at arms length from DFO and their mandate is to consider all information provided to:

  • determine if the appellant was treated fairly in accordance with DFO licensing policies, practices and procedures;
  • determine if extenuating circumstances exist for deviation from established policies, practices and procedures; and
  • provide a full rationale with any recommendation where exceptions to licensing policies, practices and procedures are recommended in individual cases

The PRLAB then makes a written recommendation to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who makes the final decision.

Questions on whether policies are reasonable or appropriate or suggestions for policy changes should be addressed through the fisheries management advisory process. The PRLAB does not make decisions on licence policy, although if requested, they may provide advice to the Minister on changes to licencing practices and procedures.


PRLAB members are appointed by the Minister for their knowledge of the fishing industry and their ability to provide fair and reasonable consideration to individual appeals. Nominations for appointment of members may be submitted at any time.

To nominate yourself or another individual for the Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board please provide:

  • a letter of interest,
  • a résumé outlining work experience and knowledge of the fishing industry and
  • three references

Nominees must:

  • Be retired from active participation in the fishing industry
  • Disclose any financial interests they may have in the fishing industry and
  • Be available to attend approximately four scheduled hearings in a given year as well as participate in any additional meetings that may be required.
  • Adhere to the Terms of Reference and Conflict of Interest Guidelines.

PRLAB appointees receive remuneration for their services and travel expenses in accordance with Treasury Board Guidelines.

Reasons for Requesting an Appeal

The PRLAB only hears appeals relating to elements of fact and process or involving extenuating circumstances.

The PRLAB has the discretion of refusing to grant an appeal, if the appeal is determined to be made on unwarranted grounds or there is no acceptable reason for non-attendance at a previously scheduled appeal hearing.


PRLAB will only hear appeals resulting from licensing decisions which occurred within two years; that is from the time a grievance is alleged to the date a notice of intent to appeal is filed.

Licence limitation appeals must be filed within two years from January 1st of the year following the announcement of the limitation program.

Requesting an Appeal Hearing

Before requesting a formal appeal, explore options that may be available with your local licence unit.

Appellants are referred to the PRLAB by receipt of a letter that denies issuance of a licence or an exemption from licensing rules and policies.

If you wish to request an appeal, a written appeal request must be submitted which includes detailed reasons for the appeal and any additional relevant information. You may also submit a written request for another hearing if you have new information to present. The decision to grant another hearing rests entirely with the PRLAB.

Once your submission is received, the PRLAB Liaison Officer will schedule an appointment for your appeal to be heard at the next scheduled meeting or the next meeting that you are able to attend. You will be notified of the date, time and location of your appointment with the PRLAB. Each appointment is scheduled for 45 minutes.


Assistance in preparing for the appeal is available from the PRLAB Liaison Officer. You may wish a copy of departmental information that may relate to your appeal. If you obtain such information, we suggest you to review it prior to the appeal hearing.

If you have other documents or relevant information you wish the PRLAB to consider, they should be provided to the PRLAB Liaison Officer a minimum of 10 days prior to the hearing date.

You should bring a copy of your submission and documentation to the hearing as well as any pictures of your vessel and gear that may be helpful. You may also wish to make some notes on points you would like to present to the PRLAB at the hearing.

Attending a Hearing

Appellants may appear either in person or via conference call. You may choose another individual(s) to represent you in submitting your request or attending the hearing. You may also request that PRLAB make a recommendation to the Minister based on a written submission only.

You will be given an opportunity to summarize your appeal and supporting documentation. PRLAB members may then ask you questions on any points which they would like clarification. Material presented both in writing and orally at the hearing is considered part of the appeal record.

Appellants may be required to submit a statutory declaration under Fishery (General) Regulations Section 8.(1)(b), verifying that the information and documentation provided is complete, accurate and true.

If an appellant provides falsified documents, evidence of previously under-reported fish or other illegal activities, the PRLAB will be required to provide this information to DFO or any other investigative body responsible for enforcing the laws of Canada or a province.

Hearings are generally held approximately three or four times a year and are at DFO Regional Headquarters at 200 – 401 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Withdrawing an Appeal

An appeal may be withdrawn at any time by notifying DFO in writing.

Appeal Decisions

You will be advised in writing of the Minister's decision. As under Section 7 of the Fisheries Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has absolute discretion in the issuance of licences, the decision of the Minister is final.

For More Information

You may obtain additional information or assistance from or submit appeal requests, PRLAB nominations or requests to obtain copies of PRLAB recommendations to the PRLAB Liaison Officer.

Submissions may be mailed or sent by facsimile to:

Andria Charette

Tel: 604-666-1640
Fax: 604-666-5855

A/Liaison Officer Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board
200 – 401 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4