1. Profile
    1. Basic legislation
    2. Legal definition
    3. Guidelines and codes of conduct
    4. International arrangements
  2. Planning
    1. Authorization system
    2. Access to land and water
    3. EIA
  3. Operation
    1. Water and wastewater
    2. Fish movement
    3. Disease control
    4. Drugs
    5. Feed
  4. Food safety
    1. Miscellaneous
      1. References
        1. Legislation
        2. Related resources
      2. Related links
        Basic legislation
        The aquaculture industry is overseen in Canada by a combination of federal, provincial and local authorities. In recent years, both the federal and provincial governments have been striving towards a more efficient regulatory framework, balancing the need to protect the environment, sustain fisheries, and enable a competitive industry to flourish.

        The federal government has jurisdiction over the regulation of fish products marketed in export and inter-provincial trade, the conservation and protection of wild fish stocks and fish habitat and research and development. Federal authority to regulate the aquaculture industry is shared between 17 departments and agencies, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as the lead.

        DFO is responsible for issuing licences for the importation into Canada and movement between provinces of live fish (salmonids), eggs, and dead, uneviscerated fish under the federal Fisheries Act (1985) and for fish health under the federal Fish Health Protection Regulations   . Transport Canada grants authorizations for aquaculture facility plans affecting navigation under the Navigable Waters Protection Act (1985). DFO or Transport Canada manages the environmental assessment process in coordination with Environment Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1992).

        Other important departments and agencies for aquaculture include Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These departments and agencies ensure the safety and quality of fish products, feeds, veterinary drugs and vaccines under the Fish Inspection Act (1985), the Feeds Act (1985), the Food and Drugs Act (1985) and the Pest Control Products Act (2002)   . CFIA also administers the National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP) in conjunction with DFO.

        Specific responsibilities for aquaculture have been delegated by the federal to the provincial level through memoranda of understanding. In general, the provinces are responsible for aquaculture planning, site leasing, licences and approvals for aquaculture sites, aquaculture training and education, the collection of statistics, the promotion of fish and aquaculture products, and the management of the industry's day-to-day operations, The Provinces also regulate the food safety of aquaculture processing, while the regulation of food safety for export purposes remains under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. All the provinces and territories have legislation to regulate aquaculture industries. Some provinces have proclaimed acts dealing with aquaculture, while at the local level, regional districts and municipalities administer zoning bylaws.

        This study focuses on regulation at the federal and provincial levels in British Columbia, the province with the largest share of aquaculture industries in Canada. The primary legislative instruments for the regulation of aquaculture at the provincial level in British Columbia are the Fisheries Act, (1996) and the Fisheries Act Regulations (1976), the Aquaculture Regulation (2002) and the Environmental Management Act (SCBC 2003 C.53)   . In addition, there are several important provisions for aquaculture under the Fish Inspection Act (1996) and Fish Inspection Regulations.

        In British Columbia, aquaculture is overseen by three provincial government agencies: the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the Ministry of Environment, and the Integrated Land Management Bureau. Under the Service Agreement on Compliance and Enforcement Programs Finfish and Shellfish Aquaculture in 2002   , the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is designated as the lead agency for compliance, including receiving, adjudicating and issuing commercial aquaculture and seafood licenses and permits.
        Legal definition
        The federal Fisheries Act (1985) does not define the term aquaculture. Definitions for aquaculture vary under provincial legislation. For example, The British Columbia Fisheries Act (1996) defines aquaculture as the "growing and cultivation of aquatic plants… or fish, for commercial purposes, in any water environment or in human made containers of water, and includes the growing and cultivation of shellfish on, in or under the foreshore or in water". As a comparison, under the Newfoundland Aquaculture Act (1990), aquaculture is defined as "the farming of fish, molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic plants and other aquatic organisms with an intervention in the rearing process to enhance production by regular stocking, feeding, and protection from predation, and includes fallowing and processes to mitigate environmental degradation and the placement of necessary gear and equipment". Under the New Brunswick Aquaculture Act (1988), aquaculture is defined as "the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals, but does not include the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals in a laboratory for experimental purposes or in an aquarium".
        Guidelines and codes of conduct
        The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA), the umbrella organization for aquaculture associations in Canada, has developed three industry product certification tools and codes of conduct for the Canadian seafood farming industry: The Safe Quality Food Certification Program (SQF), the National Code System for Responsible Aquaculture and the Brand Canada logo.  

        The SQF is a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point System (HACCP)-based food safety and quality management system. The Program encompasses farmed salmon production and processing, and addresses food safety, product quality, environmental stewardship, animal care and worker health and safety. The SQF Farmed Salmon Certification Program is available only to Salmon of the Americas Association members and program implementation in North America is being lead by CAIA. Once a company has successfully passed the third party audit, it has the right to use the SQF logo on its products.

        The National Code System for Responsible Aquaculture provides a series of HACCP-based national standards for food safety, environmental management and product traceability for Canadian seafood farming operations. The National Code System for Responsible Aquaculture addresses the same categories of risks as the SQF Program and can be used by all CAIA members, including producers, processors and feed companies. SQF Certified companies are also recognized as meeting the National Code System for Responsible Aquaculture standards. Any company which passes an audit by the SQF or the National Code System for Responsible Aquaculture is given the right to use the CAIA Brand Canada logo on its products. Participation is voluntary and is not a condition of membership in CAIA or Salmon of the Americas.

        Codes of conduct targeted specifically to the aquaculture industry have also been developed at the provincial level. For example, the British Columbia (BC) Salmon Farmer's Association established a Code of Practice in 2005   . The Code of Practice is a commitment by all the association's members to sustainable environmental stewardship and product quality assurance. All BC Salmon Farmers Association members are required to implement the Code of Practice on all of their operating farm sites. It contains guidelines for waste material management and disposal, stock containment, fish mortalities and blood water, net maintenance, predator control, site appearance, husbandry, farm stock, feed management, bio-security and the handling of fuels and hazardous materials. The BC Shellfish Growers Association has a similar Code of Practice  .
        International arrangements
        Canada is a member of the following International Organizations:
        • Free Trade Area of the Americas.
        • North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization.
        • Office International des Epizooties.
        • World Trade Organization.
        Canada is also a party to the following international agreements with implications for the regulation of aquaculture:
        • Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on The High Seas (1995).
        • Codex Alimentarius (1963).
        • Convention on Biological Diversity (1992).
        • Convention for the Conservation of Anadromous Stocks in the North Pacific Ocean (1992).
        • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1978).
        • North American Free Trade Agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of the United Mexican States, and the Government of the United States of America (NAFTA).
        • North Atlantic Salmon Convention (1982).
        • Pacific Salmon Treaty (1985).
        • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982).
        Regional organizations have been established in different parts of Canada and the USA, to improve co-ordination of efforts to minimize the negative impacts of human activities on fisheries resources. Some of the regional organizations pertaining to the aquaculture sector and the standards or procedures that they have developed include:
        • Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Comprising representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ontario, and the federal governments of Canada and the USA) - policies on fish disease control and health requirements for importation of salmonids, and a draft policy on introduction of exotic species.
        • Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species - The Panel is directed to identify priority exotic species issues in the Great Lakes; assist/make recommendations to the US Task Force on Aquatic Nuisance Species; coordinate exotic species program activities in the region; advise public and private interests on control efforts; and submit an annual report to the Task Force describing prevention, research and control activities in the Great Lakes. The Panel membership is drawn from US and Canadian federal agencies, the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario, regional agencies, user groups, local communities, tribal authorities, commercial interests and the university/research community.
        • Pacific Northwest Fish Health Protection Committee (Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington states, and USA federal government; observers from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Pacific and British Columbia attend) - standards for protecting the health of salmonid resources.
        • British Columbia Working Group on Non-Indigenous Species - together with its counterpart in Washington State, under the Joint Environmental Council, developing a strategy to prevent the unintentional introduction of non-indigenous species into the shared waters of Puget Sound and Georgia Basin.
        • Proposed compact between North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and USA federal government with Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Canadian federal government - co-operative procedures for control of the introduction of exotic species.
        Authorization system
        Both the federal and provincial governments are authorized to issue licenses to engage in and set up an aquaculture facility in Canada. The application process and the licence obtained will depend on whether the operation is located under federal or provincial territory.

        For operations located on federal property such as port authorities, national parks, and for operations located offshore, federal permission must be obtained under the Fisheries Act (1985) to authorize aquaculture activities that have an impact on the public right to fish. In these cases, as the leasing authority, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will take into account fisheries management concerns in making the decision to issue or not a federal licence, or to grant a federal lease for a proposed aquaculture operation. DFO will consider the potential impact of the aquaculture operation on wild fish, commercial and recreational fisheries, aboriginal fisheries, and fish habitat.

        Most aquaculture operations in Canada are located in near-shore sea coast and inland waters, where provincial governments act as the leasing authorities. With the exception of Prince Edward Island, the provincial governments are generally responsible for the issuing of licenses and permits and the regulation of aquaculture facilities, including escapes, waste management and aquatic animal health.

        In British Columbia, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Licensing and Compliance Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands (the Ministry) is responsible for the administration of the Fisheries Act (1996) (the Act). Under the Act, a person must not carry on the business of aquaculture at any location or facility in British Columbia or its coastal waters unless the person holds a licence issued for that purpose by the Aquaculture and Commercial Fisheries Branch (now Fisheries and Aquaculture Licensing and Compliance Branch) of the Ministry. The license must include the name and address of the licensee, the location in which licensed activity is to be carried on, the effective date and term of the license, and any other conditions the Minister considers appropriate. This may include the species of fish or aquatic plant to be farmed. Upon violation of the Act, regulations or license conditions and after due investigation, the Minister may suspend or terminate a license in addition to all other penalties to which the licensee may be liable. There are also provisions under the Act for an oral hearing to review decisions to suspend or revoke licences upon the licencee's request.

        Aquaculture facilities in British Columbia must also meet the requirements of the Aquaculture Regulation (the Regulation), including development of an escape prevention plan and compliance with escape prevention standards. Under the Regulation, all applications for a new aquaculture site and facility in British Columbia must be accompanied by a completed management plan, with information on the proposed site and facility to government outlining the location, layout and proposed production levels of the facility; the proximity of the site to other marine and upland resources; and the oceanographic and meteorological conditions experienced at the site.
        The Minister may refer the management plan to other government departments and agencies for review and comment before making a decision on licensing. The departments and agencies include the federal DFO, Transport Canada, the British Columbia Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and local governments. Where the application has a potential to impact a First Nation's rights or interests, First Nations will be consulted in accordance with the applicable First Nations consultation protocols. In addition, the Minister will notify affected parties and provide them with an opportunity to comment on the application. The Minister may also consult with an aquaculture biologist, an aquaculture development branch, or equivalent Ministry Fish Health Veterinarian. Public notice of the proposed application may also be required as part of the tenuring process under the Land Act   . The applicant will be provided with an opportunity to respond to any relevant material or information provided through the referral and public consultation processes.

        The Finfish Aquaculture Licensing Policy and Procedures for Applications establishes specific guidelines for the consideration of finfish aquaculture to assist in the exercise of discretion of the Minister. A license will only be issued if it is in the public interest to do so. In deciding whether it is in the public interest to issue a salmon aquaculture licence, the guidelines refer to the following paramount considerations:
        • Protection of public health and safety.
        • Protection of the environment.
        • Sustainable economic development.
        In assessing an application, the Minister may consider:
        • Whether the applicant has met all the requirements of the Act and Regulation.
        • Whether the proposed site has the biophysical capacity to support the proposed operation.
        • Whether the operator has any previous convictions, suspensions, cancellations or refusals to issue licences or any outstanding fees or royalties in relation to any other aquaculture or commercial seafood licences.
        • The financial capacity and stability of the applicant to support the proposed operation, including liability insurance and whether the applicant has appropriate and sufficient experience/qualifications in aquaculture operations.
        • The comments of all parties consulted in the referral process.
        • The impact of the proposed operation on other uses, users and resources within the area of operation.
        • The adequacy of public notice and public input.
        • The nature and extent of local community support for the proposed operation.
        • The economic and employment benefits.
        • Whether the proposed operation will involve technological innovations or enhancements that may lead to improvements in the standards of operation for the salmon aquaculture industry.
        • The adequacy of the applicant's measures and plans regarding the prevention, detection and response to escapes of finfish.
        Ministry Fisheries Inspectors ensure compliance with the Act and Regulation, through reporting and regular inspections and other monitoring activities as appropriate, including spot audits. A pre-operation inspection by a Ministry Fisheries Inspector is required for any new operation.

        In addition, under the Regulation, finfish aquaculture licence holders must develop and follow a best management practices plan for the operation and maintenance of their marine finfish aquaculture facilities. The best management practices plan is designed to prevent escapes of finfish to the environment as a result of finfish delivery, handling, grading and harvesting, net cage and bag cage changing; boat operations and maintenance; towing of active containment structures at, to or from the marine finfish aquaculture facility; and management of predation of farm stock and recovery of mortalities. The plan must include a description of specific management practices and standard operating procedures that have been reviewed and endorsed by the licence holder. A copy of the plan must be made available at the marine finfish aquaculture facility upon the request of an inspector or a conservation officer. The plan must be amended whenever there is a change in the operation of the marine finfish aquaculture facility that materially increases the risk of escape of finfish to the environment.

        There are also specific requirements for finfish aquaculture operations under the Finfish Aquaculture Waste Control Regulation (2002)   . The British Columbia Ministry of Environment is responsible for issuing the approvals under this regulation which must be obtained before a site can be stocked with fish. Operations must also take samples and report as prescribed in the regulation, and comply with performance-based standards for chemical indicators in the sea bed below the facility.
        Access to land and water
        In Canada, the regulation of access to land and water for aquaculture operations is under the shared jurisdiction of the federal, provincial and local governments. All proposals for access to land and water for aquaculture operations go through an interagency referral process, which is coordinated at the provincial level.

        The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) coordinates with the provincial ministries for the federal review of access to land and water for aquaculture applications and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Fisheries Act (1985). Transport Canada has responsibility for the Navigable Waters Protection Act (1985) (NWPA) and any any Environmental Impact Assessments that may be required by the NWPA pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1992) to protect wild fisheries and the marine environment while maintaining safe marine navigation.

        Local governments, such as Regional Districts, in the provinces also have the authority to regulate land and water access. In British Columbia, the districts have authority under the Local Government Act (1996)   . Land use planning and regulations can be affected through Official Community Plans (OCPs) and zoning bylaws, which enable the control of conditions such as the type of use, the density of activities (i.e. structures as well as coverage) and set backs (i.e. buffers). OCPs and zoning bylaws must go through a community review process prior to their approval.

        Freshwater finfish aquaculture operations in British Columbia occur primarily on private land and encompass commercial enterprises such as salmon and trout hatcheries, trout farms and fee-fishing operations. However, virtually all marine finfish, shellfish and marine plan sites are located on tenured provincial (crown) foreshore. Aquaculture operations on provincial land require both an aquaculture license under the provincial Fisheries Act (1996) and a crown land tenure under the provincial Land Act (1996). A management plan is required for all finfish and shellfish tenure applications. If the proposed facility requires access to surface water for domestic or commercial use, a water license under the Water Act (1996) may also be required. Applications for Crown land tenures and shellfish and finfish aquaculture licences at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands can now be processed at one location by one provincial approving office.

        Areas of land which have the capability and suitability to support aquaculture may be identified through an integrated resource planning process or aquaculture specific coastal plans (such as the Aquaculture Opportunity Studies; Shellfish Aquaculture Action Plans). These planning processes involve significant local community and sector input for marine activities in the area. The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands will take into consideration input from these resource planning and advisory processes, where they exist, as well as other sources contacted as part of the referral process when making planned tenure dispositions or evaluating individual applications. The Ministry will also take into consideration sustainability principles in its decision-making.

        British Columbia has established specific Siting criteria for new commercial finfish aquaculture tenures with implications for access to land and water under provincial jurisdiction. Under the criteria, proposals for new salmon farms must meet certain requirements and minimum separation distances: Sites must be located at least a certain distance away from First Nations reserves (unless consent is received from the First Nation), salmonid-bearing streams, herring spawning areas, as well as inter-tidal shellfish beds that are exposed to water flow from a salmon farm and which have regular or traditional use by First Nations, recreational, or commercial fisheries. New tenures must also be located a specified distance away from all other wild shellfish beds and commercial shellfish growing operations, areas of "sensitive fish habitat", and areas used extensively by marine mammals, as determined by DFO and the province. Finally they must be located away from the edge of the approach channel to a small craft harbor, federal wharf or dock, from specified ecological reserves and away from a specified line of sight from existing federal, provincial or regional parks or marine protected areas. The farms must also not infringe on the riparian rights of an upland owner, without consent, for the term of the tenure license or in areas that would pre-empt important Aboriginal, commercial or recreational fisheries or areas of cultural or heritage significance. The locations must also be consistent with approved local government bylaws for land use planning and zoning and be located at a certain distance from any existing finfish aquaculture site, or in accordance with a local area plan or coastal zone management plan.

        Where an Economic Measures Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place with First Nations and where community criteria for tenure selection has been established for aquaculture, new applications will be accepted for suitable sites where they do not conflict with sites identified in the MOU. In the absence of a formal Economic Measures MOU or MOU sites selection agreement with First Nations, the authorizing agency will accept a tenure application. These will be subject to consideration of First Nations interests and rights, any completed coastal resource plans, standard referral processes and community input as part of the public consultation process.
        An initial 5-year licence of occupation is generally issued for new shellfish or finfish sites to allow the operator to prove site viability. A 5-year licence of occupation may also be used to authorize experimental shellfish or finfish aquaculture sites or sites involving new technologies. One replacement of the initial 5-year licence can be authorized if the site is still under development. Otherwise a standard 20-year licence would generally be issued following the initial development licence.
        The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (1992) (CEAA) and its regulations are the legislative basis for the federal practice of environmental assessment. Under the CEAA, Transport Canada must conduct an environmental assessment for a marine aquaculture project an approval may be granted under the Navigable Waters Protection Act for the construction or placement of a works in navigable waters or an authorization under the Fisheries Act (1985) for the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.

        The CEAA identifies the factors that must be considered in the screening of a project, including the environmental effects of the project, public consultation and measures to mitigate significant adverse environmental effects. Environmental effects are specifically defined under the CEAA as "any change that the project may cause in the environment, including any effect of any such change on health and socio-economic conditions, on physical and cultural heritage, on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by aboriginal persons, or on any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological or architectural significance; and any change to the project that may be caused by the environment, whether any such change occurs within or outside Canada".

        Other federal departments, such as Environment Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Heritage, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development may be consulted to assist DFO in the environmental assessment. A public registry must be maintained in respect of every project for which EIA is conducted, regardless of whether the project undergoes a screening, comprehensive study, panel review or mediation. Further details on the process applicable to marine finish are outlined in the DFO Aquaculture Plan Interim Guide to Information Requirements for Environmental Assessment of Marine Finfish Requirements   .

        The provinces also have jurisdiction over environmental impact assessments for aquaculture. In British Columbia, aquaculture is regulated under the Environmental Assessment Act (2002)   and the Reviewable Projects Regulation (2003)   . The Act establishes an Environmental Assessment Office to conduct environmental impact assessments of major projects designated as "reviewable projects" by regulation or those with the potential to have a significant adverse affect on the environment in coordination with the federal review process. In the 1997 Salmon Aquaculture Review, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office determined that salmon aquaculture was not a reviewable project .
        Water and wastewater
        The regulation of wastewater falls under both federal and provincial powers. At the Federal level, fish farm effects on habitat are regulated by the federal Fisheries Act (1985) , prohibiting the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat and the deposit of deleterious substances except where authorized by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans or Environment Canada.

        In British Columbia, the Ministry of Environment (the Ministry) is responsible for developing and enforcing waste standards for aquaculture operations. It performs annual environmental monitoring and auditing to assess industry compliance with the standards and to assess effects on the marine ecosystem. Specific activities include:
        • Reviews of industry environmental monitoring data.
        • Annual monitoring of sediments at salmon farms.
        • Development of sampling protocols and quality assurance/control programs.
        • Establishing priorities for ministry monitoring of sediments at salmon farms.
        • Environmental sampling at salmon farms, providing feedback to the facility.
        The Ministry introduced the Finfish Aquaculture Waste Control Regulation (the Regulation) in 2002. The Regulation applies to all farms and includes provisions for registration, waste discharge standards, pre-stocking requirements, domestic sewage requirements, best management practices, monitoring and reporting, remediation, fees, offences and penalties.

        The Regulation requires finfish farm operators to register with the Ministry and provide updated information about farm operations. Registration may be in the form of a management plan for an aquaculture licence under the Fisheries Act (1996), with supplemental information as prescribed in the Regulation.

        Finfish farm operators are also required to ensure the sustainability of ocean floor organisms by adhering to a sediment chemical standard within the farm tenure and a biological standard at the perimeter of the tenure. Specific chemical conditions and monitoring requirements must be met if various chemical levels are exceeded during a production cycle.

        Finfish farm operators must also prepare and implement a best management practices plan to meet the following objectives:
        • Achieving waste standards.
        • Continual reduction of waste discharge and management to preclude spillage.
        • Handling spills and mortalities in a timely and appropriate manner.
        • Husbandry techniques to preclude wildlife access and minimize impacts on wildlife.
        Finfish farm operators are required to implement a monitoring program with accepted protocols and frequencies for:
        • Physical parameters, such as currents.
        • Routine sediment grab samples for soft-bottom sites and surveys of hard-bottom sites.
        • Biological analysis and contaminant analysis, including pesticides and metals when specified.
        Finfish operators must report monitoring results and other waste-related information to the regional waste manager. In addition, the Regulation provides for audits and inspections by the Ministry to ensure that such reporting is accurate and that the standards are effective in protecting the environment.

        The Protocols for Marine Environmental Monitoring   published by the Ministry provides further details about monitoring and aquaculture waste control requirements specifically for finfish.
        Fish movement
        The movement of fish in Canada is regulated by the National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms (2002)   (the "Code"), developed cooperatively by provincial, territorial and federal governments. The Code applies to all types of marine animals and is consistent with Canada's commitments under the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. It requires the submission of a detailed application to the provincial ministry responsible for Aquaculture for each introduction and transfer of aquatic organism, including the nature of the organism, the geographical area of the proposed introduction and the likely interaction with native species.

        The Introductions and Transfers Committee (the Committee), is a joint federal and provincial body that makes recommendations on proposed transfers to The Department of Fisheries and Oceans under Sec 56 of the Fisheries (General) Regulations . It reviews applications against the following list of factors:
        • Genetic effects on the capacity of native species to maintain and transfer their current genetic identity and diversity to successive generations.
        • Ecosystem effects on the distribution and abundance of native species resulting from alterations in relationships such as predation, and food and habitat availability.
        • Disease effects on the incidence, distribution and/or impact of pathogens and parasites on native species.
        If the assessment risks associated with the proposed movement of the organisms are low, the application is passed to DFO for further processing. All applications representing a high or medium risk are examined by the Committee to determine if there are mitigation procedures or technologies available to reduce the level of risk.

        The Committee consults with the proponent(s) to determine if they have suggestions on such procedures and technologies and if any proposed procedures and technologies are feasible. The decision-making process ensures that all appropriate consultations are undertaken including those with other agencies, jurisdictions and aboriginal groups. The applicant may wish to appeal any recommendation or decision made by the Committee through the appropriate decision-making authority. The statutory decision-making authority(ies) has the final responsibility to render a decision, as well as establish the terms and conditions for appeal.

        The Committee is bound by existing government legislation and policies regarding movements of live fish into and within the Province. Key regulations include: In addition to the Code, the federal Fish Health Protection Regulations   (FHRP) under the Fisheries Act (1985) also regulates fish movement. The FHRP are designed to minimize the risk of the spread of infectious diseases through inspection of wild and cultured fish stocks and to control the movement of infected fish into Canada and/or between provinces/territories. They apply to live and uneviscerated dead cultured fish, eggs (including fertilized eggs or gametes) of cultured and wild fish and products of dead, uneviscerated cultured fish destined to move into Canada or across provincial boundaries within Canada. In the event of violation of the FHRP, seizure and other powers of the Fisheries Act (1985) apply.

        Under the FHRP, a permit must be issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to import cultured fish or eggs of wild fish. A provincial fish health officer can issue the required permit upon application and receipt of a certificate that the fish or fish eggs are free from any disease or disease agent. A comprehensive list of diseases found in fish is included in the regulations.

        Before a fish health certificate may be issued, an existing facility with eggs and/or fish of unknown pathogen status must have four satisfactory inspections over a period of not less than 18 months. Inspections must be conducted at intervals of not less than 90 days and not more than 270 days. Aquaculture facilities wishing to export disinfected eggs need only be tested for viral agents.

        If eggs or fish are transferred from another source, the fish health certificate for the receiving facility will be changed to reflect the FHPR status of the source. The facility must re-commence the inspection schedule at inspection one and have four inspections over a minimum of 18 months, with inspections being not less than 90 days or more than 270 days apart, before a fish health certificate can be re-issued.

        A new facility using an isolated water supply free of all species of fish and starting with stocks from a source with a valid fish health certificate can obtain a fish health certificate after only one inspection. In this circumstance, the fish health certificate must reflect the disease agent profile of the source, plus the results of the one inspection at the receiving facility. For a production facility to retain a fish health certificate, consecutive satisfactory inspections must be conducted twice yearly with inspections being not less than 90 days or more than 270 days apart.

        Zoning is being developed to identify the presence or absence of specific diseases in areas or regions of Canada. The identification of zones will protect disease-free areas during aquatic animal transfers into Canada, between provinces and ensure Canada is compliant with the OIE International Aquatic Animal Health Code and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement. The development of zoning for Canada will be based on aquatic animal health data and is the responsibility of the Aquatic Animal Health Office.
        Disease control
        Fish health management is regulated by both provincial and federal legislation and policies. Operators of aquaculture facilities must ensure that actions taken by them to prevent, control or treat fish diseases are in accordance with federal and provincial legislation that apply generally to animal diseases as well as specific legislation that addresses fish disease.

        There have been recent initiatives to harmonize the regulatory framework for fish health in Canada with international standards. In 2005, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) launched the National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP)   initiative. This program is designed to meet international aquatic animal health management standards to protect Canadian aquatic resources (wild and farmed) from serious infectious diseases and to maintain competitive international market access.

        The NAAHP is modeled after Canada's internationally recognized terrestrial animal health program, and in consonance with the health measures of the Aquatic Animal Health Code of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The NAAHP is made up of the following key elements for listed diseases of concern:
        • Listing of aquatic animal diseases meeting international and national criteria for mandatory reporting.
        • Legislation, regulations and policies.
        • Surveillance (early detection), monitoring and reporting.
        • Zonation (regionalization).
        • Disease databases.
        • Laboratory diagnostic testing and capacity building.
        • Quality Assurance/Quality Control.
        • Scientific research and technology development.
        • Import controls.
        • Export certification.
        • International relationships (influencing setting of standards, trade negotiations).
        • Contingency planning.
        • Disease control and eradication (containment standards and quarantine, disease preparedness and response etc.).
        • Education and training.
        • Risk analysis.
        • Awareness.
        • Animal welfare.
        • Record keeping (tracking and tracing).
        • Codes of practice.
        • Hatchery Program.
        The CFIA provides the overall program lead for the NAAHP under the legislative authority of the Health of Animals Act (1990) and Regulations . The Agency is responsible for the disease surveillance/monitoring protocols and control measures for reportable diseases. DFO delivers and oversees the National Aquatic Animal Laboratory System. Expertise and collaboration is also sought from the provinces/territories and industry.

        There are also provisions for disease control under provincial legislation. In British Columbia, Fish Inspection Regulations   require that employees of fish processing facilities do not work if they suffer from any communicable disease, are carriers of any disease, or have open lesions. All employees must wash their hands after every stoppage in work and adequate facilities for such must be provided. All waterproof garments worn by workers must be washed after each shift. Sewage and liquid waste from operations must be disposed of in a manner that is inaccessible to flies and separate from the water supply of the establishment.

        Following an environmental assessment review in 2001, British Columbia developed a wide ranging policy designed to improve monitoring and treatment of fish disease and sea lice in the aquaculture industry. Comprehensive Fish Health Management Plans (FHMPs) are required for all fish culture facilities in the province since 2004. The FHMPs are a key component of the precautionary approach to the aquaculture policy framework in British Columbia and are used as a model by other countries in the development of their own fish health management programs.

        The 2003 Required Elements of a Fish Health Management Plan   and the Manual of Fish Health Practices   detail the requirements of maintaining fish health records, monitoring disease and infection and identifying and managing risks to fish health, among others. To check the information fish farms provide in their FHMPs, ministry fish health experts audit company records, conduct random on-site inspections and test fish for disease and sea lice. Every operating farm is checked at least twice a year for compliance. The FHMP template is also updated annually by the ministry fish health veterinarian.
        All veterinary drugs used in aquaculture must be licensed at the federal level by Health Canada (Bureau of Veterinary Drugs), under the Food and Drug Act (1985) . Health Canada's Veterinary Drugs Program is responsible for establishing the maximum residue limits (MRLs), administrative maximum residue limits (AMRLs) or residue limits for antibiotic drugs used in acquaculture. MRLs are published in the Food and Drugs Regulations   . If levels of drug residues in excess of these limits are found in fish intended for human consumption, the fish will be considered "unwholesome", according to the Fish Inspection Regulations. Dosages and withdrawal times for veterinary drugs must be followed as indicated in the veterinary prescription or, in those cases where a prescription is not required, in the Compendium of Medicating Ingredient Brochures (CMIB) published and maintained by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

        When an antiparasitic product is orally administered to fish, via feed or otherwise, it is deemed to be a drug and it is regulated by Food and Drugs Act (1985). . When the same antiparasitic is applied externally to fish (not ingested) it is deemed a pesticide and it is regulated by the Pest Control Products Act (2002)   . The Pest Management Regulatory Agency within Health Canada approves or grants emergency release permits for pesticides under the Pest Control Products Act.

        The sale of licensed veterinary drugs and pesticides is monitored by the individual provinces. In British Columbia, the Pharmacists, Pharmacy and Drug Scheduling Act (1996)   and the Veterinary Drug Medicated Feed Regulation   provides the regulatory framework for monitoring the sale of chemicals and veterinary drugs in aquaculture.

        The British Columbia Aquaculture Regulations (2002) contains specific rules for the application of drugs to finfish. No drug can be administered unless the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act (1985) have been complied with and the drugs are prescribed by a veterinarian. A record must be kept of any introduction of a drug into an aquaculture facility. The record must include the aquaculture license number and name of holder, the location of the facility, the species of finfish and the name of prescribing veterinarian. It must also contain a log with the names of any drugs used and how they were administered, the treatment schedule and the name and signature of the person administering each treatment. A statement containing the above must be provided to any processing plant or fish buying station to which the finfish are delivered.
        The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates the feed industry in Canada at the federal level. Strict raw material selection criteria are used to ensure a high quality feed. All ingredients used in aquaculture feed in Canada must be approved for use in feed by the Canadian Feed Inspection Agency.

        Under the authority of the federal Feeds Act (1985) and Regulations, 1983   , the Canadian Food Inspection Agency administers a national livestock feed program to verify that livestock feeds, including fish feeds, manufactured and sold in Canada or imported into Canada are safe, effective and labelled appropriately. Feeds for non-salmonid aquaculture species of fish must be registered by the national feed program to ensure that the standards for safety and usefulness are being met and that the labelling meets the regulatory requirements. All feeds imported into Canada also require registration.
        Food safety
        The Canadian Food Inspection Agency established under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act (1997) is responsible for the administration of the Fish Inspection Act (1985) and Regulations and for the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations   . The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also coordinates with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada for the sanitary oversight of the shellfish aquaculture industry under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program.

        The Fish Inspection Act (1985) (the Act) provides for jurisdiction over all fish and fish products intended for export, inter-provincial trade or import into Canada. It is designed to verify that fish, fish products and marine plants are harvested, transported and processed under conditions such that marketed commodities meet national and international standards of wholesomeness, composition, packaging, and labelling.

        The Fish Inspection Regulations (the Regulations) provide for minimum quality and safety standards for the production, handling and storage of fish products. Under the Regulations no person shall export or process any fish that is tainted, decomposed or unwholesome. The day, month, year and processing establishment must be clearly marked on any shipping container transporting fish products, as well as the specifics of its contents. Similarly, detailed packaging information about the contents of the shipment, its origins and its date of packaging are required for import. Both exporters and importers must obtain a license. Any establishment involved in fish processing must apply for and receive a certification registering their establishment and setting out the functions it is permitted to perform.

        The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations also establish labelling requirements for fish products. Such products must clearly indicate the specific contents of the package, including the common name of the fish, the net weight of the content and all ingredients. The labelling must not be false, misleading or deceptive. There are also detailed provisions related to each specific type of fish product.

        The legal authority for the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program is provided by the Fisheries Act (1985), the Management of Contaminated Fisheries Regulations, the Fish Inspection Act (1985), the Fish Inspection Regulations and the Canada - United States Bilateral Agreement on Shellfish (1948)   . Under this program, the Fish, Seafood and Production Division of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (the Agency) has the authority to regulate the import and export, processing, packaging, labelling, shipping, certification, storage, repacking of shellfish to protect against contamination and product quality degradation, to maintain source and lot identity and integrity.

        The Agency may suspend operations or decertify shellfish processors on the basis of unacceptable operating and sanitation conditions. The Agency also regulates the depuration of shell stock, verifies product quality and purification effectiveness, and maintains production and product quality records. In addition, the Agency evaluates laboratories performing shellfish analyses in accordance with the requirements of the CSSP and maintains a biotoxin surveillance program of shellfish growing areas in support of Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Canadian Food Inspection Agency activities.

        In British Columbia, fish product production, processing and safety are dealt with under the Fish Inspection Act (1985) (the Act) and Fish Inspection Regulations (the Regulations). The Act establishes an inspection system to carry out the mandates of the Act and Regulations. Inspectors are empowered to inspect any fish storage or transport facility and take samples. No person is to impede an inspector. If the inspector reasonably believes that there has been a violation of the Act or Regulations, they may seize all fish products and containers. The Regulations provide that no person shall process any fish that is tainted, decomposed or unwholesome, or otherwise fails to meet the requirements of the Regulations. Fish are required to be packaged in new, clean, sound containers. Licenses are required for food processing facilities. No damaged, distorted, unsealed or otherwise defective packaging may be sold to consumers. The Regulations also specify labelling requirements for fish and fish products, which include the common name of the product, the ingredients, and the source of the packaging and/or processing. No package shall be labelled in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive. The Regulations also contain construction requirements for fish processing and packaging facilities, which include sloped concrete floors for drainage, washable smooth walls that can be washed, adequate drainage facilities and ventilation systems. The Aquaculture Regulation also requires all cultured finfish to be processed in a federally registered processing facility, unless an exemption is provided. Most product (salmon) is destined for export, thus it is subject to this requirement federally as well.
        Aquaculture investment 
        Aquaculture research is supported through the federal DFO and a network of regional aquaculture research facilities. The Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP) is a DFO initiative to increase the level of collaborative research and development activity between the aquaculture industry and DFO researchers. The key goals of the program are to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian aquaculture industry through collaborative research with industry and to facilitate technology transfer. The Program has an annual fund of 4.5 million Canadian dollars to allocate to collaborative research projects that are proposed and jointly sponsored by aquaculture producer partners.

        The following federal legislation and regulations can be found online at the Government of Canada, Department of Justice website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca

        Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.C. 1992, c. 37, as amended R.S.C. 1994, c. 46.
        Canadian Environmental Protection Act, R.S.C. 1999, c. 33.
        Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, R.S. 1997, c. C-6.
        Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-33, as amended by R. S.C. 1994, c. 14.
        Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations, C.R.C., Vol. IV, c. 413.
        Feeds Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-9.
        Feeds Regulations, S.O.R./83-593.
        Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1985, c.F-14.
        Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations, S.O.R./93-332.
        Atlantic Fishery Regulations, S.O.R./86-21.
        Fisheries and Environment Canada, Fish Health Protection Regulations Manual of compliance (Ottawa: Department of Fisheries and the Environment, 1976).
        Fishery (General) Regulations, S.O.R./93-53.
        Fish Health Protection Regulations, C.R.C, Vol. VII, c. 812.
        Fish Toxicant Regulations, S.O.R./88-258.
        Management of Contaminated Fisheries Regulations, S.O.R./90-351.
        Marine Mammal Regulations, S.O.R./93-56.
        Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations, S.O.R./93-55.
        Ontario Fishery Regulations, S.O.R./89-93.
        Pacific Fishery Regulations, S.O.R./93-54.
        Quebec Fishery Regulations, S.O.R./90-214.
        Fish Inspection Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-12.
        Fish Inspection Regulations, C.R.C, Vol. VII, c. 802.
        Food and Drugs Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-27.
        Food and Drug Regulations, C.R.C, Vol. VIII, c. 870.
        Health of Animals Act, R.S.C. 1990, c. 21.
        Health of Animals Regulations, C.R.C, Vol. III, c. 296.
        Navigable Waters Protection Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. N-22.
        Oceans Act, S.C. 1996, c. 31.
        Pest Control Products Act, R.S.C. 2002, c. 28.
        Pest Control Products Regulations, S.O.R./2006-124.

        The following provincial legislation and regulations can be found online at the Government of British Columbia Queen's Printer website: http://www.bclaws.ca

        Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c.119.
        Environmental Management Act R.S.B.C. 2003, c.53
        Finfish Aquaculture Waste Control Regulation, B.C. Reg. 256/2002
        Land-based Finfish Waste Control Regulation, B.C. Reg 68/94
        Fish Inspection Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 148.
        Fish Inspection Regulation, B.C. Reg. 12/78
        Fish Protection Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 21.
        Sensitive Streams Designation and Licensing Regulation, B.C. Reg. 89/2000.
        Fisheries Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 149.
        Aquaculture Regulation, R.S.B.C. Reg. 78/2002
        Fisheries Act Regulations Reg. 140/76
        Land Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 245.
        Water Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 483.
        Wildlife Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 c.488
        Freshwater Fish Regulation Reg.261/83
        Related resources

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        Federal Resources

        Regional review on aquaculture development. 7. North America - 2005. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 1017/7 FIMA/C1017/7  online version
        Office of the Commissioner of Aquaculture Development (OCAD), Legislative and Regulatory Review of Aquaculture in Canada (Ottawa: DFO, 2001)
        David VanderZwaag, Gloria Chao and Mark Covan, "Canadian Aquaculture and the Principles of Sustainable Development: Gauging the Law and Policy Tides and Charting a Course" (2002/2003) 28 Queen's L.J. 279, 529

        Provincial Resources

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        Country profiles: Canada
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