Grocers, seafood suppliers push Canada’s government on traceability
A group of 26 grocery chains, seafood industry stakeholders, and experts are calling on the federal government to commit to a timeline to fulfill its mandate to implement boat-to-plate traceability for seafood in Canada.
The group includes Sobeys, Buy-Low Foods, Save-On-Foods, Monterey Bay Seafood, Skipper Otto, Ocean Brands, Organic Ocean, Oceana Canada, and SeaChoice.
“This comes at a critical time as the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is studying seafood traceability in Canada as a way to support the sustainability and long-term viability of Canada’s seafood supply chains while combatting fraud, human rights abuses, and illegal fishing,” Oceana Canada said in a press release.
Their letter, delivered to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as part of its recent boat-to-plate seafood traceability consultation, contends the minimum standards must be expanded so that all seafood products are fully traceable from the point of final sale back to the point of harvest, “Including key information about the who, what, where, when and how of fishing or farming, processing and distribution,” Oceana said.
No timeline or plan for the implementation of a better traceability system has yet been released, despite the Canadian government announcing the initiative in 2019, according to Oceana.
“Boat-to-plate traceability of seafood is central to preventing overfishing and illegal fishing. To contribute, we can work together to prevent overfishing by eliminating markets for seafood that are not traceable and likely caught illegally or with forced labor,” Ocean Brands President Ian Ricketts said. The company’s brands include Ocean’s, Gold Seal, and Millionnaires. “While a lot of work has been done in the past to provide traceability for certain fish species, there is room for more progress to be made to look after our oceans. We look forward to working with our industry partners and associates to achieve full traceability for all seafood sold in Canada.”
According to a YouGov Plc survey commissioned by SeaChoice in November 2021, 86 percent of Canadians support improved seafood traceability for all products sold in Canada.
There has been a global push in recent years to require electronic data to follow seafood products through the supply chain to safeguard their true identity and point of origin and to ensure legality, Oceana Canada said.
“Canada’s grocers and seafood companies have a critical role to play in advancing seafood traceability in Canada, especially by supporting improvements in minimum traceability standards. This will help create a level playing field among industry actors where businesses who don't invest in traceability can’t undercut those that do,” said Christina Callegari, sustainable seafood coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, on behalf of SeaChoice.
Photo courtesy of Oceana Canada