What you need to know about the Fish Harvester Registration and Certification Board of Nova Scotia

Benefits to Registering with the Board

When fish harvesters register with the board it gives them the opportunity to be part of an organization that will focus their efforts on training for the industry. This will allow for subsidized training for fishermen and a voice in future training development. The registration fee paid will now stay in Nova Scotia and will help fish harvesters. The board will be a one-stop shop for harvesters to access supports/industry resources/information on training and certification requirements. They will also offer electronic storage for individual certificates.

The main objective is to use the money to offset training costs for fishermen. A percentage will also be used for administration of the registration, certification and training system.


Yes – this board is new as a result of merging together the Maritimes and Gulf region of Nova Scotia in order to form one board under the Fish Harvesters Registration and Certification Act of Nova Scotia. This group has been working on “professionalization” in the Province of Nova Scotia. The concept of what this group is doing is not new. The move towards having a professionalization program in place has been going on since the early 90’s.

The board prepared a proposal to DFO, requesting them to withdraw from the collection of Personal Fishing Registration (PFR).  In the Fall 2016 they received word from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada offering his support-in-principle of the proposal. There was agreement to work collaboratively over the next 24 months towards a more detailed negotiation of the proposal’s content and implementation plan. The Minister also instructed DFO to begin the process necessary to amend registration requirements in relevant federal regulations (which included industry consultation).

The regulatory amendments were passed in December 2020. Now that this has been completed, this board will then administer a registration system in the Province of Nova Scotia and the funds collected from that will be used to run the organization.


Fish Harvesters will have an option to either register with the board or continue to register with DFO.  If they decide to register with the board, those funds will be used to run the board.  Fish Harvesters will only pay once.

The intention of the board is to maintain this fee at the current rate. Any changes made to the annual fee charged for registration and certification would have to be supported by the board and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The Board

Directors are selected by a nomination process from each of the six zones that make up the Province of Nova Scotia. A full outline of the process is included in the governance policy for the board.

Communication tools such as a website, social media and newsletters will be made available so that registrants can be kept up to date on the activities of the board. Staff of the board will also attend meeting of associations/organizations across Nova Scotia in order to provide updates on activities. An annual report will be produced and presented at the Annual General Meeting.

Yes, the board will be made up of directors from across Nova Scotia – representative of fleet sectors and geographical areas.

The mandate of the board is to fund and coordinate training for fish harvesters that are registered and certified with them.

The board will administer a registration, certification and training system for fish harvesters in Nova Scotia.

This board is formed under the authority of the Fish Harvesters Registration and Certification Act that was passed in May 2012. The NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture was the sponsoring department for the legislation.

No, this board will not be involved in the management of the fishery and will focus its’ efforts on registration, certification and training.

How the Process Works

After registration is received, the fish harvester will be entered into the system and assessed at one of the three levels of certification. It will be determined what level a fish harvester is by his/her past experience and training. Existing industry will be grandfathered and new entrants come in as Apprentices.

Registrants will be provided with three options. They will include paper based by mail, online and in person at the community level with COVID-19 protocols in place. During the initial registration, a letter will be sent to all holders of Personal Fishing Registrations (PFR) providing the option to be exempt from DFO registration. A registration form will also be enclosed within the envelope. Individuals will be required to renew their registration each year via mail/online/in person. A renewal form must be completed and submitted with any annual payment.

Certification Process

If a fish harvester wanted to move to a higher level of certification, he or she must complete the below steps:

Step 1 – registrant makes application to move higher.

Step 2 – applicant documents previous training and sea time.

Step 3 – registrar assesses application to determine if higher classification warranted.

An appeal process will be available if necessary.

Yes – the classifications that DFO gives to licence holders will still remain the same.

Fish harvesters will be certified at one of three levels: Certified Professional Fish Harvester – Licence Holder (L) and Non – Licence Holder (NL), Professional Fish Harvester – Licence Holder (L) and Non-Licence Holder (NL) and Apprentice. A full outline of the criteria in each of the certification levels is included in the governance policy of the board.

Stage 1 – Those Registered with FHRCBNS will be sent an information collection form that will permit the initial certification assessment.  This will capture years of service and/or training previously obtained.

Stage 2 – Complete the assessment – Each returned form will be reviewed to ensure: certificate #s, date of issue and date of expiry are all provided. At this point certification can be offered on an honour basis.

Stage 3 – Offer a service of centralized storage for all certificates. This will represent a Verified Certification status. It would also be possible to provide proof of certification to 3rd parties (DFO and other government agencies) if interested.


All registered fish harvesters are eligible for a training subsidy. As part of the application process it will be determined what training is needed by individual fish harvesters. This information will be used to develop a training plan for the industry in Nova Scotia and training will be delivered on a first come first serve basis, and would be scheduled based on fishing seasons.

We can’t anticipate what training requirements may arise in the future so it’s in your best interest to be prepared and register with the board. Fish harvesters may want to take advantage of non-regulatory training programs as well which can have a positive effect on improving knowledge and awareness in the industry.

There is a real need for fish harvesters to consider the future and the recruitment of new participants  to the fishery. They will need training. Providing training will generate a larger pool of trained crew members and potential new entrant licence buyers.

The board will support regulatory (ie Transport Canada) and non –regulatory training as requested by fish harvesters.

The board will support fish harvesters to obtain the necessary training required for their fleet sector and size of vessel they are on. These training requirements are outlined in the Marine Personnel Regulations as issued by Transport Canada.  The board’s role is to help fish harvesters comply with the requirements and promote the necessary training. These training certificates issued by Transport Canada are incorporated into the certification levels.