Compliance and enforcement policy for habitat and pollution provisions of Fisheries Act: chapter 5

Inspection and Investigation

Enforcement personnel will carry out two main types of enforcement activity under the habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act: inspections and investigations.


The purpose of an inspection is to verify compliance. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of the Environment will carry out a program of inspections to verify compliance with the habitat protection and pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, related regulations and authorizations issued pursuant to those regulations, and authorizations issued pursuant to subsection 35(2).

The inspection program will be prioritized based on compliance history and the risk to fishery resources. Compliance with new regulations may also become an inspection priority. Inspection schedules are established to verify adherence to regulations, warnings, directions and orders by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, injunctions, and court orders upon conviction of an offender.

When information or complaints are brought to the attention of enforcement personnel, additional inspections will be carried out as required. In addition, the departments may develop special inspection schedules when companies or facilities undertake expansion or alteration of a process, or temporarily or permanently shut down.


The purpose of an investigation is to gather evidence of a suspected violation. A Fishery Officer, Fishery Guardian or Fishery Inspector will conduct an investigation either:

  • when there is suspicion that a violation has occurred; or
  • when there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence is being or has been committed.

In carrying out investigations, enforcement personnel are limited by the powers of search, seizure and arrest as set out in the Act and the Criminal Code.

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