British Columbia Government Introduces New Fish & Seafood Act

VICTORIA – The B.C. government’s new Fish and Seafood Act will replace legislation that was last significantly updated in the 1960s with a modern framework that builds on B.C.’s local and international reputation as a source of sustainable and trusted seafood products, and improves operating conditions for B.C.’s seafood sector.

The new legislation will update the licensing and regulation of the buying, selling, handling, storing and processing of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. The legislation also includes the following measures to support sustainability and consumer confidence in the safety of B.C. seafood:

  • Enabling the creation of a seafood traceability system to ensure seafood processed in B.C. is both safe and legally caught, cultured, bought and sold. The system will ensure B.C. seafood products are responsibly produced and harvested, and can be traced from the processor to the consumer.

  • Prohibiting the possession of illegally caught, cultured, harvested or processed seafood products, and the unlicensed sale of fish, ensuring only sustainably harvested and safely handled seafood products enter the food chain.

The new act also increases inspection and enforcement by:

  • Granting inspectors the authority to make orders, including orders for seizure and destruction of contaminated food, and recall orders if unsafe food has been distributed.

  • Requiring licence holders to record all transactions including species, size, weight and source to support traceability and food safety requirements.

  • Requiring operators to ensure staff are properly trained to comply with all standards.

  • Modernizing outdated inspection powers, with penalties for offences like failure to ensure safe food, and possession and distribution of restricted fish and aquatic plants, reaching a maximum of $50,000 a day for individuals and $200,000 a day for corporations.

  • Enabling administrative penalties for less serious contraventions.

The new act will also support B.C. seafood businesses by removing outdated references and conflicting sections of the outdated legislation. The Ministry of Agriculture will work with the seafood sector and related stakeholders as the ministry develops the regulations that will establish the licensing system.

The act was developed following consultation with federal and provincial agencies, as well as a 2012 public web-based consultation that 57 organizations participated in including First Nations, fishers, seafood sector and local government representatives. The act will replace the Fish Inspection Act and the Fisheries Act.

Learn More:

View the legislation:

Production and economic statistics on B.C.’s seafood sector:

Source: The Province of British Columbia