Vessels used in aquaculture

Aquaculture (the farming of aquatic organisms, such as fish, shellfish and aquatic plants in fresh or salt water) is a growing sector. First used to improve natural fish stocks, aquaculture is now a major Canadian industry.

Due to the expansion and evolution of the aquaculture sector, prospective operators who intend on constructing, purchasing, or retrofitting a vessel, modifying the usage of a vessel currently in service, or contracting a vessel are required to contact the regional Transport Canada’s Marine Safety Technical Services offices at the start of their project. Early involvement from Transport Canada officials will provide stakeholders with technical expertise on vessel operation and design, and provide guidance on applicable regulatory requirements to ensure compliance.

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Requirements under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001

Transport Canada promotes marine safety and the protection of the marine environment through regulations made under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001). These regulations apply to a wide range of vessels and vessel operations, including those used in aquaculture activities.


All vessels (defined as any boat, ship or craft designed, used or capable of being used solely or partly for navigation, with or without propulsion) wholly owned by Canadian citizens or permanent residents or by Canadian corporations and not registered elsewhere (with the exception of pleasure craft or certain small vessels exempted under the Vessel Registration and Tonnage Regulations), must be registered.

Regulatory requirements

Vessels and vessel operations must also comply with regulatory requirements. These regulatory requirements pertain to matters such as stability, lifesaving equipment, fire safety, safety of navigation, personnel, and environmental protection. Vessel type, activity, the area of operation, and vessel size will determine which requirements are applicable to you.


Any Canadian vessel of more than 15 gross tonnage, with the exception of certain non-self-propelled vessels, is subject to full inspection and certification requirements by Transport Canada. This also applies to vessels with a length of 24 metres or more, however inspections are carried out by the applicable recognized organization. Canadian vessels that are 15 gross tonnage or less and carry more than 12 passengers, must also undergo full inspections and certifications.


In cases where it would be unfeasible to construct or operate a vessel in accordance with the regulatory requirements, the owner of the vessel can apply to the Marine Technical Review Board (MTRB) to seek an exemption from, or the replacement of, any requirement under the existing regulations. For an application to be granted, the MTRB must be satisfied that the alternative proposal is in the public interest and would not risk marine safety or the marine environment.

General questions

To assist the aquaculture industry, we’ve created an Aquaculture Advisory Group to support the consistent application of regulatory requirements to vessels engaged in aquaculture activities across the country.  

Contact the Transport Canada Liaison Officer in your region if you have any questions about aquaculture vessel operations and the applicable regulations.

Liaison Officers

Region Liaison Email
Atlantic Gerry Currie
Québec Simon Pelletier
Ontario Harman Sandhu
Prairie and Northern Tamara Sowellu
Pacific Aloak Tewari

Technical services

If you want to contract, build, purchase, retrofit or change how a vessel is used, you must contact one of our regional Marine Safety Technical Service offices at the start of your project. You can also contact us to submit documentation and plan for your vessel’s first inspection.

Region Contact Email
Atlantic (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI) Gerry Currie
Atlantic (Newfoundland and Labrador) Tom Elliot
Québec Guy Anderson
Ontario Harman Sandhu
Prairie and Northern Cory Toews
Pacific Jasbir Mundy

Additional contact information for all regional Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security centers can be found on our Marine Transportation in the Regions page.