Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Harvest of Marine Plants in British Columbia
The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is responsible for the management of the commercial harvest of marine plants in British Columbia. We ensure that the harvest of marine plants is done in an approved manner, and that the harvest will not compromise habitat or traditional First Nations use of the resource.
A Licence to Harvest Marine Plants in British Columbia is required if you intend to undertake a commercial harvest of any marine plant. The licence stipulates the species, quota, method of harvest and area of harvest. Please be aware that the harvest licences do not grant the privilege of harvesting on privately owned intertidal land or land leased from Integrated Land Management Bureau. Licences to Harvest Marine Plants are issued for the purposes of the commercial Spawn-on-Kelp (or Roe-on-Kelp) fishery, and for other commercial purposes such as specialty food for the restaurant market, and fertilizer. A variety of marine plant species are harvested.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) manages the commercial Spawn-on-Kelp fishery. DFO issues a limited entry licence (J-Licence) for the impoundment of herring and subsequent sale of herring spawn-on-kelp. A Licence to Harvest Marine Plants in British Columbia is required by J-Licence holders to authorize harvest of Macrocystis (giant kelp) to be used in this fishery.
At present, all harvest of marine plants in British Columbia is done by hand. There are conditions stipulated on the licence about where a plant may be cut, what portion of the plant may be harvested, and on occasion a condition that only one plant in four may be harvested in a given area to ensure that the integrity of the bed is not affected.
As one of the requirements stated on the licence, all marine plants destined for the food industry must be processed in a duly licensed facility. The reason for this is to protect the public health by requiring that food products be prepared for the market in a manner and in a facility which will ensure wholesomeness.
Before an application can be considered, the applicant should be able to demonstrate that the product will be used for a viable business. The applicant should provide a comprehensive outline of the proposed harvest operation and processing arrangements. As well, the applicant should be able to provide information from market research that indicates product type, sales volume and price, and marketing channels.
When an application is approved, a licence quota may be set based on the amount of product requested and historical inventories (where they exist) of the marine plant resources in the area. In all cases, the conditions of licence will stipulate that no more than 20% of the total biomass of a marine plant bed may harvested. Other conditions related to particular species of marine plants may also be imposed. These measures ensure the long term sustainability of the resource and minimize the impact to fish and fish habitat.
A royalty of $10.00 - $100.00 per tonne wet weight harvested is levied, depending on the species harvested (as outlined in Schedules I and II of the Fisheries Act Regulations).
All marine plant harvest applications (Spawn-on-Kelp and Non-Spawn-on-Kelp) & fees MUST be received in the Courtenay office no later than 4:30pm October 1. If October 1st falls on a weekend or holiday the next business day at 4:30 will apply. Applications received after the deadline will be returned to the applicant. This is to allow sufficient time for review of applications and referral to other agencies/stakeholders. Note that marine plant harvest licences for the Spawn-on-Kelp fishery are typically effective at the beginning of February and expire at the end of June.
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands enforcement staff monitor compliance with regulations regarding commercial marine plant harvesting.
- Marine Plant Harvesting Application Form
- General Terms for Marine Plant Harvesting
- Harvest Log / Royalty Return Form
- Marine Plant Harvesting Schedules
- Historical Kelp Inventories
- Marine Plant Harvest Licence Statistics
All applications and enquiries regarding the licence application procedure should be directed to the MAL Regional Office at 250 897-7540.
To avoid long distance charges, you may contact Enquiry BC and ask to be transferred to 250 897-7540.
- 250 387-6121 (Victoria)
- 604 660-2421 (Vancouver) or
- 1-800-663-7867 (elsewhere in BC)