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Wildlife Law of Canada


Fisheries Act (Saskatchewan)

(current to 15 August 2016)

Note Re Application of the Fisheries Act (Saskatchewan)

For purposes of the Fisheries Act (Saskatchewan) ('FA'), 'fish' means any species of fish and includes any aquatic crustaceans, aquatic molluscs or aquatic invertebrates, any eggs or sperm from any fish and any part or parts of any fish" [FA 2(1)(e)]. The FA governs all fish in Saskatchewan, other than species at risk fish designated under the Wildlife Act (see that module) [FA 6(a)].

It also governs all fishing and fisheries activity in the province [FA 6(b,c)]. For these purposes, 'fishing' means to "acquire, capture, catch, harvest ortake any fish from or in any water, and includes any attempt to acquire,capture, catch, harvest or take any fish", and 'fishery' means "any business or undertaking that involves fishing orraising, possessing, using, culturing, processing, packaging, marketing, carrying, transporting or disposing of any fish" [FA 2(1)(f,g)]. In short, it governs both recreational and commercial fishing.

For purposes of the Act, 'wild fish' means any fish that is wild by nature in Saskatchewan waters or any fish that has been introduced into Saskatchewan waters (which includes escapes from aquaculture facilities) [FA 2(1)(q)].

Note that while the Act does apply to them, the Fisheries Regulation ('FR') does not apply, to aquarium fish ("any fish that is not indigenous to Saskatchewan and that is imported for aquarium purposes or kept for aquarium purposes") [FR 3(1)].

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Saskatchewan statute website.


Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Ownership and Possession
3. Provisions Applicable to Recreational and Commercial Fishing
4. Import, Export and Relocation
5. Civil Liability
6. Enforcement

1. Overview

In Canada, the primary legislation governing provincial fisheries is federal, by virtue of Canada's constitutional jurisdiction over inland fisheries. In most provinces fishing is dealt with in the province's 'fish and game', or 'wildlife' statute. In any event, the remaining provincial jurisdiction over recreational fishing remains that of licensing and conservation (such as catch limits and open seasons), and for commercial fisheries licensing, conservation and - in addition - marketing.

The primary regulatory technique used in the FA, as with most game and fish legislation, is that of licensing. For this purpose, a 'license' includes "a licence, permit, authorization or allocation issued or granted pursuant to this Act" [FA 2(1)(h)]. Most activities in relation to fish, including fishing, and to "acquire, raise, possess, use, culture, import, introduce,process, package, market, carry or transport" fish, require licenses in order to do so [FA 13,14]. In particular, angling requires a license [FR 16] as do commercial fishing [F Regs 26], and fishing processing [F Regs 64].

2. Ownership and Possession

All property in fish in Saskatchewan living in a state of nature lies with the provincial Crown. Title is transferred to the person who subsequently and lawfully possesses (eg. by angling under license) the fish, but if it is taken unlawfully no title passes [FA 3,4].

3. Provisions Applicable to Recreational and Commercial Fishing

The following provisions apply to wild fish, and fishing and fisheries in relation to wild fish:
  • where a fish is taken at a prohibited time or place, or using prohibited method or gear, it shall be returned "to the waters in which it was taken in a manner that causes the least harm to the fish", and not retained [F Regs 18];

  • frogs or salamanders (alive or dead) and live fish may not be used as bait, except that crayfish, leeches and other aquatic vertebrates may be used by licensed children and seniors [F Regs 19];

  • while bow fishing and underwater spear fishing are both categorized as forms of angling [F Regs 2(b)], restrictions apply to methods and gear used [F Regs 24,25];

  • where a commercial fisher has taken species which they are not licensed to take, then the fish must be immediately re-released to the waters from which it was taken in a manner that causes least harm to the fish [F Regs 33];

  • all bait fish taken must be immediately killed and preserved, and other fish incidentally taken in the course of bait fishing must be immediately released unharmed to the waters from which it was taken [F Regs 41];

  • tag or mark live fish without the permission of the minister [F Regs 92];

  • abandon, handle, transport or dispose of any fish in a way that wastes, spoils or otherwise renders those fish unsuitable for human consumption except as authorized on a licence or authorized by an officer [F Regs 92];

  • it is prohibited to fish using any of the following methods of fishing (this is a partial list, see the Reg for more), without Ministerial authorization [F Regs 90(1)]:

    • use a firearm or explosive material to fish for or kill fish;

    • use a chemical or electric shocker to fish for or kill fish;

    • fish by snagging or snaring;

    • use a gaff to fish except when landing fish taken by angling;

    • use a spear to fish except when underwater spear fishing;

    • use a dip net to fish except when landing fish taken by angling;

    • use a light to attract fish for the purpose of fishing, other than a light that is part of a fishing lure attached to a line used in angling;

    • use a minnow trap or minnow seine except when engaged in bait fishing;

    • set or use a trap to fish;

      For this purpose, a 'trap' is a "device or net that catches fish by impoundment, and includes nets commonly known as hoop nets, pound nets and minnow traps but excludes cans or sacks used to take leeches" [F Regs 2(cc)].

    • set or use a gill net or set line;

    • fish in any water stocked with exotic fish by any method other than angling;

      For this purpose, 'exotic fish' is a fish "not indigenous to Saskatchewan and in their natural habitat are usually found wild in nature, but does not include the species of fish listed in Table 10 of the Appendix" (see the link above) [F Regs 90(2)].

4. Import, Export and Relocation

The following provisions relate to the import, export and relocation of fish in Saskatchewan:
  • aquaculture fish must not be released into Saskatchewan waters without authorization [F Regs 47];

  • it is prohibited to import into the province any live freshwater fish without Ministerial authorization [F Regs 88(2)(a)];

  • it is prohibited to transport within Saskatchewan any live freshwater fish, except leeches, crayfish or aquatic invertebrates, without Ministerial authorization [F Regs 88(2)(b)];

  • it is prohibited to import, buy or sell, transport within Saskatchewan or introduce into the province any Prohibited Species of Fish (see Table 10 of the Fisheries Regulation) without a permit [F Regs 88.1].

5. Civil Liability

The province, the minister, the department or any of its employees or officers are all immune from liability "for anything done or not done by any of them in good faith while exercising their powers and performing their responsibilities pursuant to this Act" [FA 36].

6. Enforcement

The Minister may appoint FA 'officers' for enforcement purposes [FA 8]. Officers have the general powers of peace officers for purposes of the FA, including entry and inspection of premises that are licensed or where licensed activities occur within, search and arrest [FA 17-21.1].

Licenses may be revoked on breach of any provision of the Act [FA 27], and the FA has a broad offence provision for prosecution of any violation [FA 29].

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Last modified: 16-11-20
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