After fraud report, Canada looks at seafood traceability

The Canadian government has launched a consultation with the country's seafood industry on 'boat-to-plate' traceability to tackle illegal fishing and fraud.

The announcement has come hard on the heels of a report by Oceana Canada which found 46 per cent of seafood sampled from restaurants and retail outlets were mislabelled, and criticised the government for not following through on a two-year-old pledge to implement traceability in the sector.

Just days later, the government published a discussion paper to serve as the basis of discussions to "inform the development of proposals to enhance boat-to-plate traceability of fish and seafood," in which it says sampling studies conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found that 92 per cent of products tested has DNA that matched the species on the label.

The consultation – organised by the CFIA along with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada – will run through to December 11.

It asks for feedback on awareness of seafood misrepresentation and mislabelling; food labelling; CFIA guidance for common fish names; approaches to traceability; sustainability and fisheries management in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; and market access, trade and marketing of Canadian fish and seafood.

On the issue of traceability, the document is skin for comment on the scope of proposals, and specifically whether traceability should be extended to additional supply chain points like restaurants, technological considerations, and preparedness.

"This consultation is an opportunity to review the traceability systems currently in place and to help understand how these may be further developed to better respond to stakeholder's, including consumer and industry, needs," said the government.

Canada exports about C$7bn (around $5.5bn) worth of fish and seafood annually and imports about $4bn in fish and seafood from just over 140 countries around the world.

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