salmon fishing transport regs
You And The Law
You Must Have A License
Packaging Your Salmon
Packaging Rockfish & Cod
Packaging Halibut
Labeling Your Box or Cooler
Transporting Crab
Transporting Another Person's Catch

    Protecting Our Sport Fishery

   The mandate of Fisheries and Oceans Canada includes responsibility for the conservation and the sustainable use of Canada's fishing resources. To support this mandate, regulations are in place to govern the number, size, weight and species of fish recreational fishers may catch. To assist anglers in complying with the law while transporting sport-caught fish, DFO has developed packaging requirements for tidal water species and salmon in freshwater.

   In most cases, residents and visitors will transport their sport-caught fish whole. However, if you prefer not to keep your fish whole, these guidelines will help you to prepare and package your catch to preserve the quality and comply with the regulations for sport fishing in British Columbia.

   These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the British Columbia Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide / Freshwater Salmon Supplement produced by DFO and the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis produced by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Some of these guidelines do not apply to freshwater species such as trout or steelhead. Enjoy your fishing experience!

   You and the Law

   The British Columbia Sport Fish Packaging Guidelines are intended for general information purposes only. Where there is a discrepancy between these guidelines and the Fisheries Act and its regulations, the Fisheries Act and the regulations are the final authority.

   Regulations are subject to change from time to time and it is the responsibility of an individual to be informed of the current regulations. If you have any questions concerning changes to the regulations contact your local DFO office.

The Law

Section 36 of the Fishery (General) Regulations states:

Identify, Count, Weigh and Measure Fish

36. (1) No person shall possess fish that were caught by any person while fishing for recreational or sport purposes and that have been skinned, cut, packed or otherwise dealt with in such a manner that:

(a) the species cannot be readily determined;
(b) the number of fish cannot be readily determined;
(c) where weight is used to determine catch limits, the weight of the fish cannot be readily determined; and
(d) where size limits are applicable, the size of the fish cannot be readily determined.

   Your catch may be checked and inspected by either federal or provincial enforcement authorities. Failure to comply with the Fisheries Act and its regulations may result in prosecution. Enforcement authorities must be able to readily determine the species, number, and if applicable, the size and weight of the fish caught, while in transport or at a location other than your ordinary residence.

   It is your responsibility to ensure the species, number, size and weight of your catch can be readily determined.

   You Must Have a Licence

You must have a tidal waters sport fishing license to harvest fish or shellfish in salt water, including tidal water boundary areas in rivers. In freshwater, you must have a non-tidal angling licence. A salmon conservation stamp is required if you intend to keep salmon caught in either freshwater or tidal water.

Before fishing, be aware of the regulations for the area(s) you intend to fish, including the size, daily and possession limits of fish or shellfish. Please read the Sport Fishing Guide/Freshwater Salmon Supplement, check for regulation updates on the Recreational Fishing site, or contact the nearest DFO office for more information.

When fishing, immediately record retained Chinook salmon and lingcod (where required) on your tidal waters fishing licence in ink. On your non-tidal angling licence, record all adult Chinook retained.

Before you package your fish, always ensure the species, number and if applicable, size and weight of the fish can be readily determined if you are checked by fishery enforcement officers while fishing or transporting your catch. This requirement also applies if you are transporting someone elseís fish.

Canning, smoking, salting, or curing your catch is not allowed other than at a personís ordinary residence, and at commercial establishments licensed to process sport-caught fish. The business must supply appropriate documentation stating the species and the number of fish canned. Canning of non-tidal species other than salmon is not permitted.

Fish caught by an angler that is being prepared, cooked, or consumed away from the angler's ordinary residence ( i.e. while staying at a camp ground, overnighting on a boat, residing at a hotel, etc.) is included as part of the fish harvester's possession limit. The amount of fish a person is preparing to consume cannot exceed the possession limit. The head and tail of all finfish and the carapace (shell) of any crab caught must be retained until the fish has been consumed.

   Packaging Your Salmon

   Chinook, Coho, Pink, Chum, & Sockeye

   When packaging your catch, if a maximum size limit applies, the head and tail must remain attached until you prepare and consume your catch, arrive at your ordinary residence, or deliver your catch to a registered processing facility.

   The head of your salmon can be removed only if the length with the head off is equal to or greater than the minimum legal size of that species for the waters in which it was caught. Leave the tail attached so species can be determined. For example, if a Chinook salmon is caught where the minimum size limit is 62 cm and it is filleted and packaged for transport, one of the fillets must have the tail attached and be at least 62 cm long. If necessary the fillet can be cut into two pieces; the tail must remain attached to one of the pieces. The fillets should be placed side by side in one bag making it obvious that they represent one fish, and the bag must be clearly labelled with:

a) the number and species of salmon - e.g., "one Chinook";
b) the number of fillets - "two fillets";
c) the number of pieces - "four pieces"; and
d) the angler's name and fishing licence number.

For example:
"Juanita Smith, licence 230775
One sockeye - two fillets"

   The exception to the above requirements is if your Chinook or Coho salmon has a healed scar in place of a missing adipose fin. The clipped fin may indicate the presence of a coded-wire nose tag used for research purposes and the management of the fishery. In this case, please remove the head from the salmon and turn it in to a Salmon Head Recovery Depot. The healed scar will identify the fish for enforcement officers as a coded-wire tagged fish should they inspect your catch. Anglers are required to ensure that proof of the healed scar remains clearly distinguishable after packaging (i.e.: do not remove the portion of the fish that contains the scar). Leave the removed adipose fin area or healed scar on any fillet.

   Steaking Salmon

   When steaking a salmon in preparation for transport do not cut all the way through the fish. Leave the steaks connected by a piece of skin and place waxed paper or plastic film between each steak. Similarly, the tail must remain attached to the body of the fish by a piece of skin. The fish can then be wrapped as a whole fish and later steaks can be removed as required without thawing.

   Packaging Rockfish and Cod

   For rockfish and lingcod, packaging and labelling is the same as that described for salmon. An individual may fillet the fish in two pieces (as with salmon). Skin must remain on each fillet for identification purposes. In those cases where a size limit applies, such as 65 cm. (26 in.) for lingcod, the fillets, including the tail, must meet the minimum "head off" size limit of 53 cm. (21 in.).

   Packaging Halibut

   Halibut must be filleted in such a way that skin is left on each fillet.

   Halibut weighing 14 kg. (30 lbs) or less may be cut into four fillets. The four fillets should be packaged and placed in one bag so that one bag would represent one fish.

   For halibut between 14 and 34 kg. (30 and 75 lbs), each fillet may be cut into two pieces. This will result in the fish being cut into a maximum of eight pieces. These pieces should be packaged and numbered in a sequence, e.g., 1 of 8, 2 of 8, 3 of 8 etc. to indicate that eight pieces of halibut represent one fish. Skin must be left on all fillets and pieces.

   For halibut over 34 kg. (75 lbs), each of the four fillets may be cut into four pieces. This will result in your fish being cut into a maximum of 16 pieces. These pieces should be packaged and numbered as outlined above. Remember, skin must be left on all fillets and pieces, and the packages should be labelled and numbered as described above.

   REMEMBER: It is your responsibility to ensure the packaging will allow the species , number, size and weight to be readily determined.
   Labelling Your Container or Cooler

   When packaging salmon for guests, lodges and charter operations are to clearly provide the following information on the outside of the transport box.

(a) the name of angler and fishing licence number; only one name per container.
(b) the number of fish by species and number of packages. For example, the label on the outside of the cooler should state, in the case of two packaged Chinook or two packaged halibut:

"2 Chinook - 2 packages", or "2 halibut - 8 packages"

   When individuals are transporting or shipping fish they must package their fish separately and only have one name per package. However, they may share a container. It is recommended that the contents (number of fish, species, and number of packages) be listed on the outside of the container to facilitate inspection.

   It is recommended that you store and transport your catch in containers and packages intended for food.

   Transporting Crab

   When transporting a recreationally-caught crab, the carapace (shell) must remain attached to the body of the crab until consumed or it arrives at a person's ordinary residence. It is prohibited to have shelled or shucked crab in your possession, except at your ordinary residence.

  Possession of female crab is prohibited. All female crabs must be immediately returned to the water in a manner that causes the least possible harm.

   Transporting Another Person's Catch

To transport another personís sport-caught fish you must carry a letter from that person with their signature, stating you are authorized to transport the fish. Check with customs officials in your country of residence for regulations concerning the importation of your catch.

The letter must state:

    * the fisherís name
    * complete address
    * telephone number
    * fishing licence number
    * when and where the fish were caught
    * the number, species and size of fish
    * name of recipient
    * address of recipient
    * estimated date of arrival
    * reason for transport
salmon and halibut packing and transport regulations

Packing & Transport Regulations for your Salmon & Halibut

Salmon Fishing the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia
             Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, B.C.
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