An Oceana report on global seafood fraud found that that, on average, one in five of the more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested worldwide were mislabelled. Canada is no exception: studies have found that up to 41 per cent of Canadian seafood samples tested were mislabelled.
Despite growing concern about where our seafood comes from, we are routinely given little or no information about the fish we purchase. The information we are given is often misleading or fraudulent. We want to know where our fish came from, that it is what the label says it is, and that it is not harmful to our health or the health of ocean ecosystems.
We believe that robust traceability standards are needed for all fish sold in Canada, both domestic and imported. With about 1,700 different species of seafood from all over the world now available, it is unrealistic to expect chefs, restaurant owners, retailers and consumers to be able to independently determine that the fish they are getting is actually the one they paid for.
The European Union, the largest importer of seafood in the world, has implemented stringent catch documentation, full-chain traceability and comprehensive labelling requirements. The U.S. is moving quickly in this direction. However, Canada continues to lag behind two of its most important trading partners. Canadians deserve the same guarantee of consuming safe, sustainable and legal fish.
As seafood industry leaders, we call on the Canadian government to require that seafood be fully traceable from the point of final sale back to the point of harvest and incorporate key information about the who, what, where, when and how of fishing, processing and distribution. Only this way will we stop seafood fraud and keep illegal fish out of the Canadian market.
Dear Minister LeBlanc, MP, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and Mr. Glover President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
As consumers of seafood, we want to know where our seafood comes from, that it is what the label says it is, and that it is not harmful to our health or the health of ocean ecosystems. Despite these growing concerns, the little information we are given about the fish that we purchase is often misleading or fraudulent.
Seafood fraud has many forms, including selling cheaper fish as a more expensive variety, labelling farmed fish as wild-caught or masking black market fish as legally caught. This not only cheats our wallets and harms our health, but it also hurts honest fishers and contributes to illegal and abusive fishing practices that hurt the health of our oceans.
With more seafood imported into Canada, the path from the fishing vessel to our plate has become increasingly complicated, allowing for fraud and mislabeling at each step of the way. In fact, this bait and switch is widespread across Canada: studies have found seafood fraud and mislabeling in up to 41 per cent of samples tested.
We believe that better traceability standards are needed for all domestic and imported seafood sold in Canada. With about 1,700 different species from all over the world now available, it is unrealistic to expect consumers to be able to accurately identify the fish we purchase. By tracing seafood from the fishing vessel to the dinner plate, we can have more confidence in the food we eat.
In fact, the European Union, the world’s largest importer of seafood, is already doing this, and the United States is moving quickly in this direction. Unfortunately, Canada lags behind. Canadian consumers deserve the same guarantee that they’re eating safe, sustainable and legally caught fish.
As concerned Canadians, we are calling on you to require that seafood be fully traceable from the point of final sale back to the point of harvest. Only this way will we end seafood fraud and keep illegal fish out of the Canadian market.