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A guide to the Pacific Region license appeal process

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Pacific Region license appeal board mandate

Our Minister established the Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board (PRLAB) in 1979 as the last administrative level of appeal for fishers who are dissatisfied with a licensing decision.

The PRLAB is at arm’s length from us, and their mandate is to consider all information provided to:

The PRLAB then makes a written recommendation to our Minister 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 licensing practices and procedures.

PRLAB membership

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.

Opportunities to apply for a PRLAB appointment are available periodically. Candidates apply online by submitting a cover letter and résumé within the timeframe stated.

Candidates must:

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 may refuse to grant an appeal if it is determined to be made on unwarranted grounds or there is no acceptable reason for non-attendance at a previously scheduled appeal hearing.


The PRLAB will only hear appeals on licensing decisions that were filed within three years of the alleged grievance.

Requesting an appeal hearing

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

To present an appeal, submit the reasons for your appeal, including any additional relevant information, by email to the PRLAB Liaison Officer at

You may submit a written request to appear before the PRLAB again regarding a previous appeal if you are presenting new information. The decision to grant the appeal being heard again 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 PRLAB 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 30 minutes.

Preparing for a hearing

The PRLAB Liaison Officer can help you prepare for your appeal. You may wish to obtain a copy of departmental information that may relate to your appeal. If you obtain such information, we suggest you review it prior to the appeal hearing.

If you have other documents or relevant information you wish the PRLAB to consider, provide them to the PRLAB Liaison Officer a minimum of 10 days prior to your hearing date.

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 draft points you would like to present at the hearing.

Attending a hearing

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

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

You 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 is required to provide this information to us or any other investigative body responsible for enforcing the laws of Canada or a province.

Hearings are generally held approximately once or twice a year either at DFO Regional Headquarters in Vancouver or virtually.

Withdrawing an appeal

You may withdraw an appeal at any time by notifying us in writing.

Appeal decisions

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

For more information

Further information or assistance on the PRLAB process may be obtained from the PRLAB Liaison Officer.


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