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Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) commercial fisheries licensing rules and policies for foreign vessels

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Where does the Canadian EEZ licence apply

The EEZ licence category authorizes fishing for the species listed on the licence within Canadian waters between 12 nautical miles from shore and the 200 nautical mile EEZ boundary. No fishing is permitted by foreign vessels within 12 nautical miles of shore at any time.

Who needs an EEZ licence?

It is mandatory for all foreign vessels wishing to fish inside the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to hold Canadian EEZ fishing licence, as specified in Section 5(1)(a) of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Vessel based fishing licences issued by a licencing body other than Canada do not authorize fishing inside Canadian waters.

The main category of fish harvester seeking this licence is American Albacore tuna harvesters wanting to troll for tuna in Canadian waters under the conditions of the Canada/USA Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty (PATT). Other applicants for this licence type include foreign scientific research vessels seeking to collect fish species samples. Applicants for a Section 5(1)(a) EEZ licence to fish are given licence conditions that mirror the similar Canadian fishing licences for tuna or scientific collection.

Transiting vessels

Foreign vessels wishing only to transit through Canadian waters without stopping at anchor, stopping at a Canadian port, or fishing, may do so without obtaining an EEZ licence. Transiting vessels must however verbally hail-in to Canadian waters by contacting the Canadian Coast Guard – Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) by radio or satellite phone, to report their entry into Canadian waters. For more information on foreign vessel hail requirements please see Fishery Notice 0276.

What activities require a Canadian EEZ licence

Activities that require an EEZ licence (fishing licence or port licence) in Canadian waters or ports are:

Canada also requires all foreign fishing vessels to obtain an EEZ Port-access licence prior to entering one of the seven British Columbia ports that are designated for foreign fishing vessel access. Foreign fishing vessels are not permitted to enter any Canadian ports that are not designated. The list of designated foreign fishing vessel ports in BC are:

Licence information

Licence renewal fee

There is no fee for EEZ category licences.

Licence issuance for albacore tuna

Under the Canada/USA Pacific Albacore Tuna Treaty, each country is required to submit a list of its tuna vessels for approval before these vessels begin fishing operations. Only vessels listed on the USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Tuna Treaty participant vessel list will be approved for a Canadian EEZ albacore tuna fishing licence. Vessel owners are reminded to first submit your vessel listing application to NOAA prior to submitting any application by email to Pacific Fishery Licencing Unit (PFLU) for a Canadian EEZ licence,).

Being listed on the NOAA Tuna Treaty list is not a requirement for an EEZ port-access licence. Inclusion on the NOAA listing is only required for EEZ fishing licence applications.

Applications for EEZ port-access, transhipping or any activity other than “Fishing only” must be signed by a Designated Canadian Representative.

Once a tuna vessel is listed as a tuna treaty participant with NOAA for that year, those vessel owners wishing to obtain an EEZ Fishing licence, or an EEZ Port-Access licence, must then e-mail an application form to PFLU at fishing-peche@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Applicants must allow at least 5 full business days, (excluding weekends, holidays and partial business days) for processing, and must receive their EEZ licence and have a copy onboard prior to entering Canadian waters or a Canadian port.

Vessel owners/vessel masters are required to have the licence on board their vessel at all times while inside Canadian waters and Canadian ports. All vessels operating in Canadian waters may be subject to inspection by Canadian authorities at any time.

Foreign fishing vessels other than USA Albacore Tuna, or for any USA tuna vessels not on the NOAA tuna treaty list, (i.e. tuna vessels wishing only to access Canadian ports, but not to fish in Canadian waters) may apply with the same application form emailed to the PFLU address above, however you will also be required to submit a copy of the vessels’ current fishing licence (USA High Seas Fishing Permit in the case of Albacore tuna vessels), as well as a copy of the vessels’ registration, (USA Certificate of Documentation - for American vessels).

Licence documents

EEZ fishing licences issued to foreign vessels pursuant to Section 5(1)(a) CFPA for albacore tuna are valid from the date of issue to October 31st of the same calendar year. EEZ fishing licences issued for any other species or purpose (i.e. scientific research) are valid from the date of issue to the expiry date printed on the licence.

EEZ port licences issued to foreign vessels of any type are valid from the date of issue to the expiry date printed on the licence. For port access return visits within a season, a new Application / separate port-access licence is required per each single visit.

Vessel identification

While in Canadian waters, foreign fishing vessels must clearly display the vessel name, and the vessel identification number, so that they are clearly visible to both aircraft and surface vessels.

All tuna vessels operating in the Eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean, including within Canada’s Pacific EEZ, must be listed on the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) Regional Vessel Registry. Harvesters can check the IATTC Regional Vessel Registry to ensure that their vessel is registered. Registration forms are available from your Tuna Resource Manager.

Vessel monitoring systems

Tuna harvesters operating vessels larger than 24 meters in length are required by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) to install and maintain a vessel monitoring system (VMS) to fish for tuna in the Pacific Ocean.

Hail requirements

All foreign fishing vessels are required to Hail the Canadian Coast Guard – MCTS via VHF radio or satellite phone prior to entering Canadian waters, prior to entering a Canadian port, and prior to exiting Canadian waters. For more details please refer to Fishery Notice FN0276.

Application form

Get your Canadian EEZ licence application form

Contact us

If you require further information please contact the Pacific Fishery Licencing Unit at: fishing-peche@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

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