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Regulations and compliance



Aquaculture activities in British Columbia are managed under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations and applicable provisions of the Fishery (General) Regulations (FGR) and other federal fishery regulations. Prior to December 2010, these activities were primarily managed by the province of British Columbia. The regulations provide a legal framework consistent with DFO's mandate to manage fisheries and protect wild fish and fish habitat.


Compliance and monitoring activities

Aquaculture compliance and monitoring activities in British Columbia

If you are concerned that an aquaculture operation in B.C. may warrant investigation by DFO, please visit our
Observe, Record, Report page.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) conducts regular audit, monitoring and surveillance activities of marine finfish, shellfish and freshwater/land-based aquaculture operations in B.C.

DFO veterinarians, biologists, fish health technicians and resource managers conduct approximately 400 compliance and monitoring site visits each year, including an average of 120 fish health and 30 sea lice audits. In addition, DFO Conservation and Protection fishery officers dedicate approximately 12,000 hours each year to aquaculture monitoring, enforcement and investigation activities, including land, sea and air patrols.

During monitoring and compliance visits, DFO may:

  • Assess compliance with farm operators' licence conditions
  • Conduct fish health and sea lice audits
  • Ensure that products are appropriately stored and tagged, site debris is managed appropriately, and only licensed species are cultured.
  • Ensure compliance with fish health management plans
  • Ensure that containment array plans, marine mammal management plans, and fish escape prevention plans are complete and accurate.
  • Assess the effects on the surrounding environment, including benthic (seabed) surveys at marine finfish sites and determining build-up of shell debris on the sea bed at shellfish sites
  • Survey watersheds to search for the presence of escaped farm salmon
  • Respond to reported concerns from the public or from other DFO staff.

A complete overview of the marine finfish aquaculture industry's performance in meeting requirements under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations and the Aquaculture Activities Regulations is available in the report Regulating and Monitoring British Columbia's Marine Finfish Aquaculture Facilities.

Review of the Fish Health Audit and Surveillance Program

DFO continually strives to improve its B.C. Fish Health Audit and Surveillance Program and commissioned an independent, third-party review to help identify the program's strengths and areas for improvement.

The report made numerous recommendations, which the Department is reviewing with an eye to implementing changes where most effective. The outcome of this review will be shared with the public.

Contact us

Please contact for a full copy of the report.

Related materials

Management plans

Aquaculture management plans

Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plans

Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plans (IMAP) identify the main objectives and requirements for the management of the various aquaculture sectors (freshwater/land-based, marine finfish and shellfish) in British Columbia, as well as the measures used to meet these objectives. These documents provides federal and provincial agencies, local government, industry, First Nations, stakeholders and the public with an overview of marine finfish aquaculture operations in British Columbia and how the industry is managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. IMAPS are reviewed periodically to incorporate changes in the management approach and to ensure that it includes the most current information available in relation to science, policy and management practices.

Integrated Geoduck Management Framework

The Integrated Geoduck Management Framework (IGMF) provides a management framework for sustainable wild and aquaculture geoduck fisheries in B.C., while minimizing potential overlap between the two sectors.

DFO siting guidelines

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