Management of Canadian aquaculture

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Management of aquaculture in Canada is a shared responsibility. The federal government has jurisdiction over fisheries and fish habitat across the country under the Fisheries Act. Under this Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada issues aquaculture licences in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. In the rest of the country, provinces and territories have this authority. The indicator includes all national and regional regulations under the Act that apply to aquaculture.

From 2011 to 2014, the compliance rate of aquaculture operations with Fisheries Act regulations was over 99% each year. The compliance rate is the percentage of visits to aquaculture sites where no charges are issued.

Making sure that aquaculture operators meet environmental protection standards helps to protect our aquatic environment and ensure that marine resources are available for the benefit of future generations.

Compliance rates of aquaculture operations with Fisheries Act regulations, Canada, 2011 to 2014

Column chart
Long description

The column chart shows the annual rates of compliance by Canada's aquaculture operations with national and regional regulations under the Fisheries Act. Compliance rates were 99% in 2011, 100% in 2012, and 99% in 2013 and 2014.

Data for this chart
Compliance rates of aquaculture operations with Fisheries Act regulations, Canada, 2011 to 2014
Year Compliance rate
Number of charges Region in which charges occurredFootnote [A] Violation type
2011 99 3 Gulf Assault/obstruct
Species/size limit
2012 100 1 Pacific Reporting
2013 99 3 Pacific Illegal transportation reporting
2014 99 1 Pacific Maximum allowable biomass exceeded

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 1.75 KB)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: The compliance rate is the percentage of visits to aquaculture sites where no charges are issued. The number of sites checked from 2011 to 2014 reflects responsibilities shared among provinces, Yukon, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, for the management of site operations through the issuance of licences. In British Columbia, federal fishery officers check all aquaculture sites to ensure compliance with conditions of licences set under the Pacific Aquaculture Regulations under the Fisheries Act. Federal fishery officers also check all sites in Prince Edward Island to ensure compliance with conditions of licence. In all other provinces and Yukon, sites are checked by provincial enforcement staff to ensure compliance with conditions of licence set under provincial/territorial licences. Accordingly, the numbers of sites checked by federal fishery officers were as follows: 215 sites in 2011, 225 sites in 2012, 282 sites in 2013, and 494 sites in 2014. The increase in sites checked in 2014 was due to the growing maturity of the program.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2015).

Between 2011 and 2014, six operators were charged with eight violations. Fines were levied on three of those operators during the reference period. In 2011, a Gulf region operator was found in possession of several undersized oysters and fined $300. In 2013, a fine of $500 000 was levied following the illegal use of a pesticide that had contributed to lobster kills in the nearby waters of southwestern New Brunswick in 2009. A fine of $10 000 was levied against an operator in Pacific Region in 2014 for violating the condition of licence that establishes the maximum biomass allowed on the licensed site.

The Government of Canada established the Sustainable Aquaculture Program in 2008 to contribute to developing an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable aquaculture sector. Sustainability is improved by increasing scientific knowledge and fact-based decision-making, developing and improving regulations, and ensuring transparency through enhanced reporting.

Aquaculture operations in Canada vary depending upon the species being farmed, the environment being used (i.e., marine or freshwater), and the culture technologies being applied (i.e., land- or water-based). Salmon is by far the most common product, and Canada is the fourth largest producer in the world. Mussels are second in importance.

Aquaculture production weight by species, Canada, 2014

Pie chart
Long description

The pie chart shows the proportion of total aquaculture production in 2014 by farmed species. Salmon (63.6%) and mussels (19.1%) are the largest segments. They are followed by oysters (9.4%), trout (5.6%), clams (1.2%), other finfish (0.9%), and other shellfish (0.2%).

Data for this chart
Aquaculture production weight by species, Canada, 2014
Species Tonnes produced Proportion of total production
Salmon 84 959 63.6
Trout 7488 5.6
Other finfish 1209 0.9
Mussels 25 464 19.1
Oysters 12 604 9.4
Clams 1626 1.2
Other shellfish 233 0.2
Total 133 583 100

Download data file (Excel/CSV; 508 B)

How this indicator was calculated

Note: Numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding.
Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2015).

Until 2015, federal enforcement of section 36 (pollution prevention) of the Fisheries Act was the responsibility of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Until that time, sites checked by fishery officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada were to monitor compliance with licence conditions set outside of section 36. With the coming into force of the Aquaculture Activities Regulations (AAR) in July 2015, a transition period of three years began, at the end of which Fisheries and Oceans Canada will have sole responsibility for aquaculture enforcement in aquatic areas under section 36 of the Act.

Since July 2015, Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Conservation and Protection program has been focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of the operational performance of the aquaculture industry, and assessing its current regulatory approach so as to inform future regulatory management decisions. These activities are carried out by fishery officers who conduct regular patrols on land, on sea and in the air. Fishery officers conduct inspections to validate licence reporting, and to determine compliance with aquaculture licences, conditions of licence, and other applicable legislation. When necessary, fishery officers respond to complaints and conduct investigations. In addition, the Department promotes compliance through public education and awareness activities to encourage all Canadians to protect fishery resources and habitats.

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