Bulletin - incidental catch

RE: Clarification of Marine Finfish Aquaculture Licence Conditions 9.1-9.4

DFO is aware that wild fish are known to swim in and out of net pens at aquaculture facilities. It is not possible to prevent wild fish from swimming into salmon farms, as net pens within salmon farms need to have open mesh to allow water flow-through. This keeps oxygen levels up and the farmed fish healthy. DFO’s current management approach aims to minimize harm to the wild fish that enter pens through licence conditions managing harvest, transfer and net removal events where wild fish can be caught.

The current licence conditions 9.1-9.4 state:

9.1: The licence holder must design and use nets and other gear or equipment in a way that reduces the risk of incidental catch, and causes the least amount of harm to incidental catch.

9.2: Unless otherwise directed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or the Department, the licence holder must ensure that any live incidental catch are immediately returned to waters outside the aquaculture facility in a manner that causes it the least harm.

9.3: The licence holder must retain all dead incidental catch and dispose of them in the same manner that cultivated stock carcasses are disposed of, as set out in section 4.4.

9.4: The licence holder must maintain incidental catch records as set out in Appendix VII and must submit to the Department in the following manner: (a) for facilities that have fish continuously present, a report must be submitted on January 15, 2016, and annually thereafter and must include records from the previous calendar year; or (b) for all other facilities, a report must be submitted within 15 calendar days of the final date of harvest that includes all records generated during the production cycle. The licence holder must submit a follow-up report if more incidental catch and/or herring spawn is discovered after all containment nets are removed.

Incidental catch is defined as: any wild fish from within the facility caught during harvest, movement of fish between or within facilities, or net removal.

It is understood that despite best efforts being employed, there is a possibility that some wild fish may be transported during a transfer from one facility to another, or from a marine facility to a processing plant following harvest. It is the expectation of the Department that these movements of wild fish are minimal, and as of the date of this bulletin, the Department advises the following to meet that objective:

  1. All conditions in Section 9 of the licence must be complied with; and

  2. In order to be in compliance with COL 9.2, licence holders must show due diligence and employ appropriate mitigation to sort wild fish from farmed fish prior to transferring fish from one facility to another and during harvest so the captured wild fish can be immediately released; and

  3. If wild fish are identified at a processing plant following harvest, this information must be submitted to the Department in the follow-up report identified in COL 9.4.

This bulletin is the Department’s interpretation of the licence conditions based on current information. Please be advised that this bulletin is subject to revision at the Department’s discretion and if updated, notification will be sent to licence holders.

If you require further clarification please contact:Kerra Shaw by telephone at 250 286-5831 or 250-203-0097, or by email.