Can I Import Fish for Aquaculture?

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 "Acquiring trout eggs or fish from other suppliers within Alberta requires no separate permit," states Bev Larson, Alberta's Provincial Fish Disease Specialist, "although the seller must have a valid commercial fish culture licence and the buyer must be licenced to obtain and rear those fish."

Since October 1, 1997 Alberta's borders have been closed to imports of live salmonids, the family which includes trout and salmon. Only egg stages, with approved permits, can be imported for this family of fish. This measure was taken to reduce the risk of also importing the Whirling Disease agent with shipments of live trout.

Depending on the species and purpose of the import, a fish import licence may also be required to transfer other families or species of live fish and/or eggs into Alberta from another province or country.

Before importing live fish or fish eggs into Alberta, it is a producer's responsibility to confirm with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) the rules applicable to their proposed import.

Certain aquatic animal imports into the province require Fish Import Permits, issued by Alberta and/or Canada.

Numerous sources for salmonid eggs are available across Canada and the USA. Many companies advertise on the web and in aquaculture journals and fish farming periodicals. Local Alberta fish farmers may recommend suppliers where they have purchased quality stock. In some years, surplus trout eggs are also made available at certain Alberta Government (AEP) Trout Station fish hatcheries.

Fish fry and/or eggs of other species are supplied from inside and outside North America. With modern shipping techniques and airfreight live fish can be shipped to Alberta successfully.

Once you have chosen a source of trout eggs or fish and/or eggs of other species, but before you get them shipped to your aquaculture facility, you must confirm the import requirements for that specific shipment.

How Do I Get An Import Permit(s)?
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) import permits are required to bring certain species of fish into Canada. For information and applications please visit the Import Permits and Conditions section of the CFIA - Aquatic Animal Health website. For questions related to the import of aquatic animals contact CFIA - Animal Health western area office in Calgary at 403-292-4963.

To bring your shipment into Alberta you can apply for an Alberta fish import licence by contacting the AEP Alberta Fisheries Management office at least ten days before the planned fish shipment will occur.

For this licence, you must be able to produce a Fish Health Certificate, signed by a veterinarian in the original jurisdiction, which states that no new certifiable fish disease has been identified at the facility since the last inspection. To arrange for the permits required by Alberta, contact AEP Fisheries Management in Edmonton, by calling 780-427-7581 or alternatively 780- 427-7959.

The permit requires the consignee's name and the destination address, including a current fish farm licence number. Information on the number of eggs/fish imported, shipment method and approximate date, and the port of entry are also required. Allow 2-3 weeks for the permit process with an initial import, particularly when health information from the source facility is unknown. A quicker response is possible for repeated imports and for source facilities with up to date information on file at AEP.

Import regulations sometimes change so confirming up-to-date requirements with CFIA and AEP is always important.

Because fish and/or eggs come from an approved source, doesn't mean they'll be free of all health and disease concerns. Care should be taken with the biosecurity of your fish farm. Isolating new fish from other populations on your farm for an initial observation period is a recommended strategy.

For more information about the content of this document, contact Dan Watson at 403-381-5850 or

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Dan Watson.
This document is maintained by Mary Ann Nelson.
This information published to the web on May 5, 2009.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 29, 2018.