TORONTO and OTTAWA — Oceana Canada is highly encouraged by the unanimous recommendations in the recent report on seafood traceability released by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and calls on the government to adopt the recommendations and set timelines for implementation. Oceana Canada has been calling on the Canadian government to put a boat-to-plate traceability system in place since 2017. If implemented, the recommendations in the report would help prevent fraud and mislabelling, and block seafood products caught illegally or with inhumane working conditions from entering Canadian supply chains. The 13 recommendations include setting a target date for the implementation of a mandatory Canadian seafood traceability and labeling system that meets global best practices.
Seafood fraud or mislabelling includes swapping cheaper or more readily available seafood for others that are more expensive, substituting farmed products for wild-caught ones or passing off illegally caught fish as legitimate. These practices undermine food safety, cheat consumers and the Canadian fishing industry, weaken the sustainability of fish populations, and mask global illegal fishing and forced labour and human rights abuses.
Oceana Canada’s most recent seafood fraud study revealed that 46 per cent of seafood samples tested in restaurants and grocery stores in four Canadian cities were mislabelled. Market research conducted by Abacus Data for Oceana Canada in 2021 found that nearly 90 per cent of Canadians are concerned about purchasing seafood that is mislabelled, up from 76 per cent in 2020. More than 85 per cent are also concerned about the government’s failure to address seafood mislabelling and illegal fishing in Canada.
“Canadians overwhelmingly support seafood traceability and want the government to act,” said Sayara Thurston, Seafood Fraud Campaigner at Oceana Canada. “This new report shows that members of all major political parties agree: it’s time to implement robust seafood traceability in Canada. All consumers should feel confident that the seafood they purchase is not harmful to their health, their wallets, or the health of our oceans. Canada is falling behind, but the recommendations laid out in this report present a clear path forward.”
Oceana Canada is part of a group of 26 grocery chains, seafood industry stakeholders and experts who called on the federal government earlier this year to fulfill its mandate to implement boat-to-plate traceability for seafood in Canada, including the requirement that seafood is fully traceable from the point of final sale back to the point of harvest.
“This study showed us that Canada has clear steps to take to ensure that seafood in Canada is healthy, sustainable and responsibly sourced,” said MP Caroline Desbiens, Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and who originally proposed the Committee undertake the traceability study. “Our study on traceability of fish and seafood products has highlighted the need to protect consumers, our economy and oceans from seafood fraud, opaque supply chains, and products of illegal fishing.”
Members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans include Liberal, PC, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois MPs. To learn more, visit www.oceana.ca/StopSeafoodFraud.
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future. Find out more at www.oceana.ca.
Media contacts: Angela Pinzon, Pilot PMR, email@example.com, 647.295.0517; Lesley Wilmot, Oceana Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org, 647-535-6326