The Fisheries Act requires that projects avoid causing serious harm to fish unless authorized by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This applies to work being conducted in or near waterbodies that support fish that are part of or that support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery. To protect fish and fish habitat, efforts should be made to avoid, mitigate and/or offset harm. Following the measures to avoid harm will help you comply with the Act.
Self-Assessment: Does DFO need to review my project?
If your project is regulated by the National Energy Board or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, or takes place in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, consult our guidance on regulatory partnerships before contacting DFO.
Use the criteria below to determine if your project requires a review by DFO. If your project cannot avoid serious harm to fish and is not included in either of the criteria below, please submit a request for review.
Contact a Fisheries Protection Office near you if you have reviewed the information, sought professional advice and still have questions.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to ensure you follow any additional requirements from other federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions and ensure compliance with the Species at Risk Act and the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act.
*This information was last updated on November 18, 2014. It is strongly recommended that you visit this website often to receive the most recent DFO advice. You can also view a detailed log of recent changes to the guidance.
If your project is taking place in one of the following existing waterbody types, you do not need to submit your project for review to DFO. You are still required to avoid causing serious harm to fish by following best practices such as those described in the measures to avoid harm.
- Approved marine disposal or dumping sites that have been used in the past 10 years
- Tailings Impoundment Areas (as listed in Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations)
- Artificial waterbodies that are not connected to a waterbody that contains fish at any time during any given year, such as:
- Private ponds
- Commercial ponds (e.g., golf course ponds, stocked fishing ponds)
- Stormwater management ponds
- Irrigation ponds or channels
- Agricultural drains and drainage ditches
- Roadside drainage ditches
- Quarries and aggregate pits
- Any other waterbody that does not contain fish at any time during any given year, and is not connected to a waterbody that contains fish at any time during any given year
If your project meets the criteria listed below, your project does not require DFO review. You are still required to avoid causing serious harm to fish by following best practices such as those described in the measures to avoid harm.