Information on the requirements that apply to fishers

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.

The following is an overview of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) licensing, preventive controls and traceability requirements that apply to fishers who manufacture, process, treat, preserve, grade, package, label or only handle the fish they harvest for inter-provincial trade or for export.

We encourage you to review the toolkit for food businesses for guidance to help you understand and comply with the SFCR.

Key requirements

1. Licensing

Preparing (manufacturing, processing, treating, preserving), handling, grading, packaging or labelling the fish you harvest

The type of activities you conduct on the fish you harvest and the place where you conduct those activities will determine whether you need a Safe Food for Canadians licence (SFC licence). Consult table 1 below to find out if you need a licence.

Table 1. Licencing requirements that apply to fishers

Legend: Licence required = Check No licence required = X

Activities conducted by a
fisher on fish for export or
interprovincial trade
In a vessel On shore
Freezing finfish, groundfish or shrimp1 X Check
Gilling or gutting1 X X
Grading Check Check
Icing finfish, groundfish, shrimp, live lobsters or crabs1 X X
Labelling or packaging

Check: If consumer prepackaged

X: If not consumer prepackaged and the fish will be subsequently manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, labelled and packaged by  an SFC licence holder in the province or territory where it's sent or conveyed

Check: If consumer prepackaged

X: If not consumer prepackaged and the fish will be subsequently manufactured, processed, treated, preserved, labelled and packaged by an SFC licence holder in the province or territory where it's sent or conveyed.

Placing elastic bands around the claws of live lobsters Table Note 1 X X
Placing fish in containers
(for protection, transport and manipulation and is not a consumer pre-packaged product) Table Note 1
X X
Preserving (such as pickling, salting or drying) Check Check
Processing (such as filleting, mincing or breading) Check Check
Refrigerating Table Note 1 X X
Removing roe Check Check
Rinsing finfish, groundfish, shrimp, live lobsters or crabs Table Note 1 X X
Shucking live scallops to extract the adductor muscle Table Note 1 X Check
Shucking live oysters Check Check
Sorting X X
Storing Table Note 1 X X
Treating (such as applying a cooking process or preservatives) Check Check

Table Note

Table Note 1

This is an activity you conduct when you handle fish after harvest to protect it from spoilage, damage and contamination. You do not need a licence to handle the fish you harvest.

Return to table note 1  referrer

Exporting or storing fish

You do not need an SFC licence to export fish or to store fish for export or interprovincial trade unless you need an export certificate, or other export permission from the CFIA, to meet foreign country requirements for those activities.

Learn more about foreign country requirements and the requirements that apply to you when you need a licence to export, a certificate or other export permissions.

Sending or conveying fish from one province or territory to another

You do not need an SFC licence if the sole activity you conduct is sending or transporting fish from one province or territory to another, regardless of whether the conveyance has temperature controls or other types of capabilities.

Applying for an SFC licence

The first step to obtaining an SFC licence is to sign up for My CFIA. Watch the video Requesting a Safe Food for Canadians Licence that's available to help you understand how to apply for a licence and find tips to ensure a smooth SFC licence application.

Be prepared before you sign up for My CFIA.

Learn more about licensing.

2. Preventive controls (Part 4 of the SFCR)

  1. The preventive control requirements in Divisions 1 to 5 apply to you as an SFC licence holder or a fisher who handles fish. These include requirements on:

    Learn more about regulatory requirements for preventive controls, preventive controls for food businesses and maintenance and operation of a vessel.

  2. The preventive control requirements in Division 6 of the SFCR on the Preventive Control Plan (PCP) apply to you if you require an SFC licence.

    As a licence holder, you have to keep, maintain and implement a PCP and make it available to a CFIA inspector during an inspection.

    Learn more about regulatory requirements for a PCP and how to prepare a PCP.

3. Traceability (Part 5 of the SFCR)

Traceability requirements apply to most food businesses. As an SFC licence holder or a fisher who sends or conveys to another province or territory or exports the fish that you handle, you are required to prepare and keep traceability records and make sure that a label is applied, attached, or accompanies the fish you provide to your customers.

Find out what traceability requirements apply to you and when by using the traceability interactive tool.

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