Law/Rules

You need an aquaculture licence to culture fish in Ontario for:

  • cage-based aquaculture
  • land-based aquaculture
  • community hatcheries
  • fee-for-fishing operations

You may also need a:

  • licence to collect fish for aquaculture
  • licence to stock fish

The province regulates the culture of fish to minimize the risk of ecological damage resulting from aquaculture activities, such as fish escapes, which can alter aquatic ecosystems and native fish populations. These regulations protect Ontario fisheries by preventing:

  • the unauthorized introduction of fish into new waters
  • the spread of invasive fish species, fish parasites and fish diseases

Licence to culture fish

To get an aquaculture licence to culture fish, you need to:

Licence to collect fish for aquaculture purposes

Aquaculturists may apply for this licence to collect fish or eggs from the wild to help develop broodstock.

Licence to collect fish:

  • eliminates the need to import fish
  • lowers the risk of genetic contamination
  • reduces the introduction and transfer of infectious fish disease
  • protects fish species during collection and vulnerable stages of their life cycle

To get a licence to collect fish for aquaculture purposes, you need to:

Licence to stock fish

You need a licence to put live fish into Ontario waters, which:

  • includes all public water stocking activities
  • excludes “artificial waters”

Artificially created waters generally are:

  • not on a regional flood plain
  • lie wholly within the boundaries of privately owned land
  • have no connection or outflow to natural waters
  • contain water from surface run-off, natural springs, ground water or water pumped from a stream or lake

You should contact your local MNRF district office to confirm waters as “artificial.”

To get a licence to stock fish, you need to:

Updated: June 02, 2021
Published: July 09, 2014