A guide to the Pacific Region license appeal process

Terms of reference
Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board (PRLAB)

1. Purpose

Under the Fisheries Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is authorized to decide upon matters pertaining to, inter alias, the issuance of fishing licences and fishermen and fishing vessel registrations. The Minister has established the Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board to be the last administrative level of appeal for fishermen who are dissatisfied with departmental licensing decisions pertaining to West Coast fisheries.

2. Mandate

  1. To make recommendations to the Minister on the dispositions of licensing decisions rejected by DFO by:
    • determining if the appellant was treated fairly in accordance with DFO licensing policies, practices and procedures;
    • determining if extenuating circumstances exist for deviation from established policies, practices and procedures; and
    • providing a full rationale to the Minister where exceptions to licensing policies, practices and procedures are recommended in individual cases.
  2. To make recommendations to the Minister on changes to licensing practices and procedures where, in the opinion of the Board, they are inappropriate or unfair, and to respond to requests from the Minister to advise on new licence policy developments by:

    • the Chairman advising the Liaison Officer of the Board’s concerns;
    • addressing such concerns at full Board meetings;
    • providing a written rationale or justification supporting the recommended change; and
    • providing a written assessment of the perceived implications of the proposed change.

3. Scope

For effort controls initiated after December 31, 1989, the scope of PRLAB shall be determined as follows:

  1. the Board will only hear appeals relating to elements of fact and process or involving extenuating circumstances, but not for reasons related to the inappropriateness of licensing policy and criteria;
  2. the Board will not hear requests for new licenses in limited entry fisheries where new licences are not being issued;
  3. the board will have the discretion of refusing to grant an appeal hearing, 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. For non-attendance, recommendations would be made to the Minister based on information at hand;
  4. the board will only hear appeals resulting from licensing decisions by the Resource Manager, Pacific Fishery Licence Unit, which occurred within a two-year timeframe, that is from the time a grievance is alleged to the date a notice of intent to appeal is filed. For licence limitation appeals, the timeframe will also be of two years from January 1st of the year following the announcement of the limitation program or management control; and
  5. the Board has the discretion of granting or denying re-appeals.

4. Responsibilities of the board


Board members

5. Composition and tenure of the board

Board members are chosen for their knowledge of the fishing industry as well as their ability to provide fair and reasonable consideration to individual appeals.

6. Schedule of hearings and quorum

7. Conflict of interest guidelines

Every Board member shall conform to the following principles:

  1. Board members shall perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in such a manner that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government are conserved and enhanced;
  2. Board members have an obligation to act in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny; an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law;
  3. Board members shall not have private interests, other than those permitted pursuant to these Guidelines, that would be affected particularly or significantly by government actions in which they participate;
  4. On appointment, and thereafter, Board members shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest from arising but if such a conflict does arise between the private interests of a Board member and the official duties and responsibilities of that Board member, the conflict shall be resolved in favour of the public interest;
  5. Board members shall not solicit or accept transfers of economic benefit, other than incidental gifts, customary hospitality, or other benefits of nominal value, unless the transfer is pursuant to an enforceable contract or property right of the Board member;
  6. Board members shall not step out of their official roles to assist private entities or persons in their dealings with the government where this would result in preferential treatment to any person;
  7. Board members shall not knowingly take advantage of, or benefit from, information that is obtained in the course of their official duties and responsibilities as that is not generally available to the public;
  8. Board members shall not directly or indirectly use, or allow the use of, government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities;
  9. Board members shall not act, after they leave, in such a manner as to take improper advantage of their previous board membership;

  10. And in particular

  11. Board members shall disclose to the PRLAB Liaison Officer, any commercial, financial or personal interest or relationship (direct or indirect) which might be perceived as being in actual or potential conflict with their official duties as members of the Board, either generally, or in relationship to a particular appeal. This includes issues relating to fisheries in which they have a vested interest;
  12. Board members shall disclose to the PRLAB Chair and the Liaison Officer, any involvement they have had with an appeal at an earlier stage, including their participation in representations to the Department, representations by the appellants to themselves personally;
  13. Board members shall disclose to the PRLAB Chair and the Liaison Officer, any previous public statements they may have made respecting the particular issue or applicant involved in the appeal;
  14. Board members who have made a disclosure under j) through l) shall not participate in any way in an appeal related to their disclosure without the consent of the PRLAB Chair and the Liaison Officer. In particular, they shall not remain in the room during any aspect of such an appeal and shall not discuss any aspect of the appeal with any other Board member;
  15. Board members who are of the opinion that another Board member may be in a conflict of interest position should raise that potential conflict with the Board member, the PRLAB Chair and the Liaison Officer. The Chair and the Liaison Officer will decide whether a conflict exists such that (m) will not apply; and
  16. Board members are not to use to their advantage, or disclose, confidential information that is not available to the public generally. Confidential information includes all information about licence appeals, Board discussions, voting and recommendations.

8. Responsibility of the appellant

All appellants may be asked to sign a statutory declaration stating that the information and documentation provided to the Board is complete, accurate and true. They will acknowledge that this information may be disclosed to other DFO enforcement personnel and any other investigative body responsible for enforcing any law of Canada or a province, and that legal action may be taken if falsified documents, previously under-reported catch, or other illegal activities are brought to light during the investigative process.