New Aquaculture Site Application Process

  1. A Crown Land Tenure:
    From the Government of BC (unless using private land). This allows you to use a specific site for aquaculture purposes.

  2. An Aquaculture License:
    From Fisheries and Oceans Canada (previously issued by the Province) for any aquaculture except plant production.

This license will describe how you will produce fish or shellfish, and it will specify certain conditions. 

The Harmonized Aquaculture Application Form is to be used by all aquaculture clients for new marine finfish, shellfish and/or freshwater/land-based operations or amendment applications, regardless of whether just one authorization is required, or all provincial and federal authorizations. 

To assist and simplify the application process for the aquaculture sector, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Transport Canada, and BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations have developed a single application which encompasses information necessary to apply for federal licensing under the Fisheries Act (Pacific Aquaculture Regulation), NWPA approval under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and Crown land tenure under the BC Land Act. The Nanaimo FrontCounter BC office will be responsible for receiving and processing all aquaculture applications. However, applications may also be dropped off at any FrontCounter BC office, which will then be forwarded to Nanaimo for processing. See additional information and a list of application forms and related websites on back page. 

As of December 19, 2010 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is now the main regulator of the aquaculture industry in B.C., and therefore responsible for the licensing of all finfish and shellfish aquaculture facilities. And while DFO is in charge of licensing, most aquaculture operations are located on public land or water, and therefore they also need a Crown Land Tenure. This Fact Sheet will provide you with some basic information on how to apply for a New Aquaculture Site in British Columbia. 

Crown Land Tenure


  • Citizens or Permanent Residents (> than 19 years old)

  • B.C.- Registered Companies, Cooperatives or Non-Profits

  • First Nations:

  • Band Owned Corporation

  • Band or Tribal Council Based on BCR;

  • Giving Council Authorization for Tenure Arrangement

  • Authorizing Individuals to Sign on Behalf of Council

There are established criteria for where you can contemplate aquaculture development, including various Coastal Plans and coastal zoning bylaws. First Nations have an opportunity to include access to aquaculture sites through the Treaty process and through MOU’s with the Province. 

Harmonized Application Review & Decision Making Process

Upon receipt of the application, an assessment will be conducted by FrontCounter BC and a federal/provincial Project Review Team to determine if the application content is complete. If the application is deemed complete, FrontCounter BC will accept the application and commence processing. Acceptance of the application does not guarantee decision to grant authorizations.

From there, federal and provincial agencies will coordinate in the review and assessment of applications, including government agency referrals, First Nation consultation, and opportunities for public comment. Throughout the review process, federal and provincial agencies will retain their respective authorities; however, efforts will be made to coordinate various aspects including consultation, timing and the communication of decisions.

At the completion of the review process by each of the applicable agencies, decisions will be made under the relevant legislation. 

Please note, as a result of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (“Cohen Commission”), some aquaculture decisions may not be made at this time.

For more details visit:

Contact Information:

Completed harmonized applications (and applicable fees) can be submitted in person to any FrontCounter BC office. If submitting by mail, please forward the application and applicable fees to the FrontCounter BC Nanaimo office at the address below. 

Questions about the completion of an application can also be directed to the Nanaimo office:

Front Counter BC Nanaimo

2080 Labieux Road, Nanaimo,
BC V9T 6J9 


Phone: 1-250-751-7220 

Applying For Crown Land Application Flow Chart

Did you know.... 
The number of finfish / shellfish tenures in BC is 445 (including: 44 tenures for Sablefish and 49 for Geoduck).

Aquaculture Application Requirements List

In addition to the General Application Requirements included on the Application Form, the following items are required for all Finfish and Shellfish Aquaculture applications.

A Site Plan of the entire application area with a north arrow, identifying the location of all improvements (cage, raft and longline arrays; ancillary structures; anchor blocks and anchor lines, etc.) in relation to nearby shorelines, boundaries of the tenure area and other legal boundaries.

The Site Plan should also include: 

  • BCGS Map number and CHS Chart number

  • Geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the site

  • Sideview and plan-view diagrams and...

A Management Plan signed and dated, which includes the following: 

Section A - Project Overview 

Section B - Project Description

Provide a description (using text and the Site Plan) of how you are proposing to use the Crown land. 

Section C – Additional Information

Where the following information is relevant to your application and has been investigated, please provide details on how you are addressing these issues. 

I. Environmental 
a. Land Impacts 
b. Atmospheric Impacts 
c. Aquatic Impacts 
d. Fish and Wildlife Habitat 

II. Socio-Community 
a. Land Use 
b. Socio-Community Conditions 
c. Public Health 
d. First Nations