Canadian Manufacturing

Oceana Canada calling on federal government for seafood traceability

Unreported and unregulated fishing practices are resulting in annual losses of up to $379 million in revenue for Canadian seafood industry workers, according to Oceana's research.

November 2, 2021  by CM Staff

OTTAWA— Oceana Canada is calling on the federal government and Ministers Duclos, Minister of Health; Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; and Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, to take concrete action on a boat-to-plate traceability system in Canada to prevent fraud and mislabelling, and to prevent seafood products that are caught illegally or with inhumane working conditions from entering Canadian supply chains.

Just days before the recent federal election was called, the government published a paper on its 2019 mandate commitment to develop such a system. After almost two years of consultations and delays, the government has yet to outline a timeline, next steps or a strategy to address this issue.

Market research, conducted by Abacus Data for Oceana Canada in 2020/2021, found that 95 per cent of Canadians support seafood traceability; 86 per cent are concerned about the government’s failure to address seafood mislabelling and illegal fishing and 46 per cent say they will purchase less seafood – or stop purchasing it all together – after learning about Canada’s current standards.

Oceana Canada is calling on the new ministers to prioritize this commitment by developing a boat-to-plate traceability system that is mandatory, comprehensive and harmonizes with our largest trading partners.

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“Seafood is a high-risk product for food fraud; this includes mislabelling, but also includes illegal products making their way into supply chains. Seafood cannot be regulated in the same way as food products that originate predominantly within Canada and have shorter, less complex supply chains, such as dairy or poultry,” said Sayara Thurston, Seafood Fraud Campaigner at Oceana Canada, in a press release.

Currently, Canada does not require that imported seafood include information needed to determine its origin, legality or sustainability status. Oceana Canada’s latest investigation revealed that 46 per cent of seafood samples tested in restaurants and grocery stores in four major Canadian cities were mislabelled.

“Eighty per cent the seafood that Canadians eat is caught in other parts of the world – including regions with lax fishing management practices. Seafood is one of the most highly traded food commodities in the world, and long, complex supply chains can mask illegal fishing, seafood fraud and mislabelling, human rights abuses, and millions in tax revenue lost from the legitimate economy,” Thurston added.

Oceana Canada’s 2020 report on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices found that Canada’s seafood supply chain traceability standards are resulting in annual losses of up to $93.8 million in tax revenue and up to $379 million in revenue for Canadian seafood industry workers.