Ministry of Agriculture
Provincial Aquaculture and Commercial Fisheries Program
Commercial aquatic harvesting activities in British Columbia, whether they involve raising aquatic species on farms (aquaculture), or collection of wild aquatic species (commercial fisheries), are a vital element of the economy of the province.
Aquaculture is a significant contributor to the provincial economy, and most aquaculture jobs are located in coastal communities. With its mild climate, good water quality and sheltered bays, British Columbia's coastline is well suited for both finfish and shellfish aquaculture. Farmed salmon is B.C.'s largest agricultural export product.
There are three main species groups currently cultured in British Columbia waters: salmon and other finfish, shellfish, and marine plants.
In February 2009, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that marine finfish aquaculture on the coast of B.C. is a fishery and a matter of exclusive federal jurisdiction. Then in December 2010, the federal government assumed regulation of the finfish and shellfish aquaculture industries in B.C. However, the provincial government continues to license marine plant cultivation and issue tenures where operations take place on Crown land, issues business licences under the Fisheries Act, and maintains the mandate to protect the provincial public interest in sustainable aquaculture development.
Commercial fisheries are also a significant contributor to the provincial economy and the social fabric of numerous coastal communities. This industry includes the commercial harvesting of more than 80 different species of finfish, shellfish, and marine plants from both freshwater and marine environments.