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Processing Plants

What is a fish processing plant?

Fish processing plants are businesses that perform activities such as cleaning fish, packaging fish, freezing fish, smoking and pickling fish, cooking crab or shrimp and storing live fish or shellfish for further retail sale at stores and restaurants.

Salmon on smoking racks

Map of BC fish processing plants

Inspection and regulation of fish processing plants

The provincial regulations governing fish and shellfish that are harvested and processed in BC are the Fish and Seafood Act (SBC 2015) 148 and Fish and Seafood Licensing Regulation (261/2016).

The BC Ministry of Agriculture (MAGRI) issues licenses for commercial fisheries, finfish and shellfish aquaculture, and fish processing plants. Inspection services for provincially licensed fish processing plants in BC are provided by the local Health Authority (HA) where the fish processing plant is located. Applications for licensing of a fish processing plant are reviewed by the HA who will then issue a recommendation to BCMAL regarding licencing once the application is complete and meets all requirements of the regulations. BCCDC assists in this process in a consultative capacity by acting as a scientific resource and providing guidance materials for HA's and processor applicants. For further information about provincially licensed fish processing plants in BC, consult this interactive map of fish plants in BC prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Safety Division. 

Fish products imported into Canada or made in BC but exported outside of BC fall under Federal regulations and oversight by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Due to the potential hazards of shellfish toxins, all shellfish in BC must be processed through a Federally registered plant – this is part of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program.

If you have any questions about opening a new fish processing plant or complaints about fish products in a store or restaurant that you think made you sick contact your local Health Authority.

Need some directions on how to collect food and environmental samples? 2-pg instructions


The following information is provided for fish processing plant operators and provincial fish inspectors.

Guidelines for plan approval and structural requirements for fish processing plants

  • this guideline provides an overview of the licensing process, and highlights the construction standards as specified in the Fish Inspection Regulations 

Guidelines for the application of HACCP in fish processing plants

  • this guideline introduces and explains the HACCP principles; illustrates and describes CCPs commonly found in fish processing plants; provides a schedule for monitoring CCPs

Guideline for labelling and packaging requirements for smoked fish

  • this guideline outlines the requirements for labelling and packaging smoked fish, referencing Federal and Provincial regulations

Guideline for the construction and operation of mobile fish vending units

  • this guideline provides the requirements for constructing and operating a mobile fish vending unit

Guideline for live retail fish holding systems

Plant construction and product flow

  • fish safety note

Battle of the gulls - A friendly attack

  • fish safety note

Best practices for producing smoked fish

  • this food safety plan identifies control points and critical control points (CCPs) for producing smoked fish

Overview of smoking fish:

Hot smoked fish flow chart
Cold smoked fish flow chart

  • diagram of process with control points and food safety parameters

Packaging and labelling for smoked fish

  • diagram of smoked fish storage, packaging and labelling requirements

Preparing a salt brine

  • fish safety note

Salting fish

  • fish safety note

The information on these pages represent the work we do on behalf of the public, industry and government. Some of this information was written for the general public and some was written in technical language for public health. 

Contact us

Food Protection Services  604.707.2440
NCC for Environmental Health  604.829.2551
Poison Control Centre  604.682.5050 (local) or 1.800.567.8911 (toll free)

SOURCE: Processing Plants ( )
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