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Allocation Transfer Program

We are working to increase First Nations participation in integrated commercial fisheries. In many areas, Indigenous people are under-represented in the commercial fishing industry. The commercial fishery is often the greatest economic opportunity for remote Indigenous coastal communities.

The Allocation Transfer Program (ATP) was created in 1994 under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS). The purpose of the ATP is to support fisheries-based economic development for First Nations groups in coastal communities by providing opportunities to get more involved in the commercial fishing industry. The ATP can provide commercial fisheries access (which may include licences, quota, vessels and gear) to eligible First Nations groups under the terms of an annually negotiated AFS comprehensive fisheries agreement.

In keeping with our overall objective of resource conservation, the ATP does not add to the existing effort on the resource. Commercial fisheries access is acquired through a voluntary relinquishment process where commercial vessel owners and licence eligibility holders are offered the opportunity to permanently relinquish licences and/or quota in exchange for a payment. The equivalent commercial fishing capacity is then re-issued to First Nations groups on a communal basis.

Eligibility for licences under the ATP

First Nations seeking access to communal commercial fishing licences under the ATP must have a current AFS comprehensive fisheries agreement with DFO, a satisfactory record of compliance with conservation and fisheries management practices, and satisfactory compliance with the terms of their AFS agreement. Communal commercial licences are issued under comprehensive fisheries agreements, which are negotiated annually by AFS Resource Management staff in our area offices, as part of the AFS. First Nations can contact the Resource Manager in their geographic area for more information about AFS agreements.

Commercial fishing business plans

The first step for First Nations applying for commercial fisheries access under the ATP is to develop a commercial fishing business plan. The ATP Application and Business Plan Form (PDF) outlines what the business plan should contain and describes the process for requesting access to ATP licences and quota.

The following reports, prepared annually by a contracted consultant and entitled "An Analysis of Commercial Fishing Licence, Quota, and Vessel Values – West Coast Fishing Fleet", may be useful to First Nations in their business planning activities.

Analysis of commercial fishing licence, quota and vessel values:

Commercial fishing business plans should demonstrate a First Nation's interest in commercial fishing licence eligibilities (licences), quota, vessels and gear, and their readiness to successfully utilize them.

After developing an economically viable business plan, the next step is to submit it to the Resource Manager in the appropriate geographic area. Business plans are evaluated and prioritized within each DFO area office. Priority is generally given to proposals that contribute to long-term First Nations employment and community economic development, as well as increased participation of First Nations people in the commercial fishing industry.

Communal commercial fishing licences are not subject to regular commercial licence fees; however, First Nations are asked to re-invest a portion of their commercial fishing profits back into their fisheries management activities and fisheries-related economic development. The terms of these arrangements are outlined in the applicable comprehensive fisheries agreement.

Process for relinquishing commercial fisheries access

Application forms and information about the process for voluntary retirement / relinquishment of licences are available on the Acquiring Commercial Fisheries Access webpage, or you may request that a copy be mailed to you by calling the Pacific Fishery Licence Unit at 604-666-0566, or send an e-mail to

For more information on the Allocation Transfer Program or a print version of the ATP Application and Business Plan Form, call 604-666-7114 or e-mail us at

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