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Pacific Salmon Treaty voluntary salmon troll licence retirement program

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The Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST) between Canada and the United States supports conservation and sustainable fisheries management for migratory salmon stocks. The fishing chapters in Annex IV of the PST are vital to the functioning of the Treaty. New provisions for five of these chapters were agreed to by Canada and the U.S. in December 2008 and came into effect on January 1st, 2009.

Changes to Chapter 3 (Chinook) are particularly significant and include harvest reductions in Canadian and U.S. fisheries to address conservation concerns in both countries. Namely, a 30% reduction in the West Coast of Vancouver Island fishery and 15% reduction in the Southeast Alaska fishery. Additionally, the U.S. provided Canada $30 million U.S. Dollars for “a fishery mitigation program designed, among other purposes, to reduce effort in its commercial salmon troll fishery.”

The three elements for mitigation that were instituted are:

  1. A voluntary permanent Licence Retirement Program with approximately $28.5 million CAD with a small portion to be used, if necessary, for removal or disposal of derelict and abandoned vessels arising from the Licence Retirement Program for Areas F, G and H of the commercial salmon troll fleet;
  2. Development of a modernized Commercial Salmon Allocation Framework with approximately $1 million CAD, which takes into account other reforms to salmon fisheries; and
  3. Support for economic capacity-building in the West Coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) communities most impacted by reductions in harvest under Chapter 3 (Chinook). Approximately $500,000 has been set aside to support communities to assess and develop economic development capacity.

The use of the term retirement in relation to the Licence Retirement Program, refers to the permanent removal (retirement) of commercial salmon troll licence eligibilities that participate in the commercial salmon troll fishery.

The voluntary salmon troll licence retirement program will be through reverse auction. Applicants will be required to submit bids for permanently retiring a salmon troll licence(s) and identify the amount in dollars they would like in return for retiring the licences listed on the application.


Eligible applicants include:

Those vessel owners who offer a salmon troll (Area F, G or H) licence eligibility and/or packages of multiple salmon troll licence eligibilities, that are within fair market value, will be considered.

The Department will continue offering retirement opportunities through to the end of the 2018 calendar year; subject to remaining mitigation funds.

Communal commercial salmon licence eligibilities will not be eligible for this program; neither will salmon seine or gillnet licence eligibilities.

Application package and process

The Voluntary Salmon Troll Licence Retirement application package will no longer be mailed out to all eligible salmon troll vessel owners.

Those salmon troll vessel owners who wish to submit an application may find a copy of the Voluntary Salmon Troll Licence Retirement application package.

A request may also be made to have a copy provided by email or mail, should that be the preference

The licence retirement program process begins when a commercial salmon troll vessel owner completes and submits the Voluntary Salmon Troll Licence Retirement Application, offering salmon troll licence eligibilities and indicates the voluntary payment requested for each retirement.

The companion document How to Complete a Voluntary Salmon Troll Licence Retirement Application provides information to help you complete the application.

Please note that applications to retire salmon troll licence eligibilities will include any Schedule II privileges, if applicable, in respect of the eligibility e.g. dogfish and/or lingcod quota.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to seek independent advice regarding payment requested, income tax, financial, legal and other implications of retiring salmon troll licence eligibilities

DFO will provide a letter once each application received to confirm receipt of the application as well as to assign an application number. The application number may be used as a reference should the applicant have any questions. The applicant will be contacted should further information be required.

The applicant may amend the application at any time; so long as the amendments are done in writing. As applications are now accepted year round, the last copy of the application received by the Department will be considered to be the application for consideration.

The area reselection guidelines will still apply. The guidelines can be referenced here.

Review and selection process

Those vessel owners who offer a salmon troll (Area F, G or H) licence eligibility and/or packages of salmon troll licence eligibilities, that are within fair market value, will be considered.

A review of all received applications will be conducted quarterly throughout the calendar year. It is anticipated that the next review of all applications received will occur quarterly, as per the schedule of dates.

Each application will then be reviewed, considered and feasibly prioritized based on the following guidelines:

  1. salmon troll only licenced vessels where an application is made to retire all of the salmon troll licences held on that one vessel.
  2. salmon troll only licenced vessels where application is made to retire less than all of the salmon licences held on that vessel.
  3. salmon troll licenced vessels with other vessel based licence eligibilities in quota fisheries held on that vessel
  4. salmon troll licenced vessels with other vessel licence eligibilities in non-quota fisheries held on that vessel.

Information regarding values of salmon troll licence eligibilities is reviewed, with selections made based on factors which may change over time, including current available program budget and the payment requested. No price negotiation will occur.

The decision to recommend acceptance of an application will be influenced by the amount of the voluntary payment requested and whether it is deemed a good value based on fair market value.

Upon DFO’s approval of an application, an agreement to retire the salmon troll licence eligibilities will be prepared by DFO and forwarded to the applicant for signature. The relinquishment agreement (the “agreement”) identifies the salmon troll licence eligibilities in the application that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (“the Minister”) will consider for retirement.

Letters will be sent by DFO to the applicants or appointed representatives to indicate DFO’s recommended approval or non-approval of applications. Letters of non-approval will be mailed upon completion of the retirement process.

Retirement and payment process

Upon DFO recommending approval of an application for the Minister’s consideration, the agreement will be sent to the applicant for signature. The agreement will specify the salmon troll licence eligibility retirement details, including payment. It will also specify other requirements that must be completed by the applicant prior to DFO making a payment, for example:

  1. Ensuring all licence conditions have been met and returning all fishing licence documents to DFO; and
  2. Advising DFO of any amounts owing by the applicant to the federal government.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to dispose of an unlicensed vessel to ensure there is no harm to the environment, public safety or other hazard.

If the vessel owner(s) holder is a company, the agreement must be signed by the authorized signatories of the company. The persons signing the agreement should reflect the signing authorities indicated on the B.C. Company Summary on record with DFO in compliance with the Fisheries (General) Regulations.

The applicant must return the agreement to DFO for review, signature and processing of payment. When all requirements under the agreement have been completed by the applicant, DFO will sign the agreement and provide a copy to the applicant. DFO will also process payment in accordance with the agreement and DFO’s licensing policy and rules.

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