In 2020 the issuing of fish culture licensing is transitioning from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). During this time, fish culture licences that were set to expire on March 31, 2020 will automatically be extended to March 31, 2021 free of charge.
Recreational Fish Culture Licence
This licence allows the holder to keep cultured fish, as specified, in the water body named on the licence. The licence is intended for the recreational, non-commercial use of the applicant. Fish cannot be commercially sold under the authority of this licence.
Fees and application
Fees for a recreational fish culture licence are:
- $10 per year
- $50 for a 5-year period
- plus $42 to have the water body inspected for new applicants or applicants who have allowed their licence to lapse for 1 year or more
The water body must:
- be situated on privately owned land
- be isolated from other water to the point that stocking fish will not adversely affect the environment or native fish; or
- have fish barriers in place to prevent escapement of stocked species into native waters if connected to natural water courses. Fish barriers must be inspected every 5 years to ensure no fish are escaping into native waters.
When submitting a new application, the applicant acknowledges that all required fish barriers must be in working condition for the license to be maintained. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of current licenses and denial of future licensing.
Any species listed on the Alberta Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) website or as prohibited species under the Fisheries (Alberta) Act can not be stocked in private or public waters. Aquarium fish, including goldfish, should never be released into any waters. Fry from many of these species can escape through fish barriers and compete with or feed on native fish stocks. Fish from the pet trade can also bring diseases into the pond that can affect stocked fish. Any prohibited AIS listed in the Fisheries (Alberta) Act must be reported to Alberta’s Invasive Species Hotline at 1-855-336-BOAT (2628) if found.
For more information and to apply, see: Application to Become a Recreational Fish Culturist (PDF, 498 KB).
Commercial Fish Culture Licences
Commercial Fish Culture Licenses are available to those who are interested in selling and holding cultured fish within Alberta. You must possess a commercial license for fish to be held or harvested for a fee, or sold to the public. Commercial licenses are classified by the species they decide to raise and the intent of sale. A detailed list of different licenses available to those wanting to culture fish in Alberta is available below.
For more information and to apply, see: Application to Become a Commerical Fish Culturist (PDF, 499 KB).
Class A Commercial Fish Culture Licence
This licence allows the holder to sell as well as keep live Category 1 species of fish as specified on the licence. It is intended for those selling live fish for recreation, commercial and retail purposes.
Class B Commercial Fish Culture Licence
This licence allows the holder to keep and sell Category 1 and 2 species of fish to commercial and retail outlets only. The licensed premises are limited to contained waters.
Contained waters are:
- held in a man-made aquarium or other impervious container that is housed within a building
- OR held in a man-made reservoir that:
- isolates the water in it from flowing into other water sources
- is completely lined with an impervious material
- is protected from predators
Class C Commercial Fish Culture Licence
This licence allows individuals or co-operative fish licence holders to keep live Category 1 species of fish as specified on the licence. Fish may be harvested for a fee or sold to the public. All fish must be dead before being removed from the premises. "U-fish" operations fall under this category.
Fees and application
The annual fee for a commercial fish culture licence is $100. For more information and to apply, see: Application to Become a Commerical Fish Culturist (PDF, 499 KB).
First-time applications will usually be assessed within 2 weeks. All new recreational ponds with outflow and commercial facilities will require an inspection to ensure all fish barriers and bio-security requirements are in place prior to the issuing of a licence. Time frames for processes that include an inspection may vary considerably, depending on the nature of the application and the existing knowledge available to inform the assessment of associated risks. Unfavourable weather or poor field conditions may delay this process. Allow 1 more week for delivery of the licence by mail.
In some instances, it will be necessary to obtain a licence to use and divert water before a fish culture licence can be issued. For more information, please call Alberta Environment and Parks, Water Approval at 780-427-5296 in Edmonton.
You can obtain a licence for a pond located on land that you lease if the land is privately owned and stocking permissions have been obtained from the landowner. Licences will not be issued for ponds located on public land.
Moving native fish
It is illegal to take, use or attempt to use live fish or fish eggs from public water for stocking a fish culture premises.
Jointly owned ponds
You can licence a pond that is jointly owned by you and your neighbour. Your neighbour must first sign the application form giving consent for you to operate a fish culture facility.
Latitude and longitude help
Cultured fish species
Table 1 shows the species of cultured fish eligible under each licence. A licensing will not be issued for any species of fish not included in Table 1.
Goldfish and koi are considered cultured fish only if they are:
- possessed at a location that is not within a person's principal residence
- being kept for the purpose of selling wholesale
Table 1. Cultured Fish Eligible for Licensing
|Category 1 Species for Recreational and Commercial A||Category 2 Species for Commercial B||Category 1 Species for Commercial C|
|Tilapia (contained waters only)
Bigmouth buffalo fish
For information on fingerling fish suppliers, see: 2018 Alberta Fingerling Fish Suppliers (PDF, 35 KB).
Connect with Aquaculture Licensing:
Alberta Environment and Parks
10155 102 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4G8
Connect with the Environment and Parks Info Centre:
Hours: 8:15am am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-3773 (within Alberta)