Canada to issue catch certificates
Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans on Wednesday opened a Catch Certification Office to support Canadian seafood exporters impacted by new European Union requirements to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which go into effect on 1 January.
Under the new requirements, exporting countries must provide to the EU a catch certificate proving the product was legally harvested.
With help from provincial governments and industry representatives, the DFO has developed a process for issuing catch certificates. The DFO’s new Catch Certification Office and a “user-friendly” online application system, called the Fisheries Certificate System, will enable Canadian seafood exporters to obtain catch certificates promptly.
U.S. seafood exporters are also receiving help from the federal government via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which set up a similar online application system allowing exporters to acquire catch certificates efficiently.
In a letter to exporters early last month, Timothy Hansen, director of NOAA’s Seafood Inspection Program, ensured the additional documentation will not curb the flow of seafood exports to the EU.
The call to fight IUU fishing has grown louder over the past year. Late last month, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s governing conference approved a treaty aiming to close fishing ports to vessels involved in IUU fishing. It’s the first-ever legally binding international treaty focused specifically on IUU fishing.
“This is the most significant international treaty dealing with fisheries since the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement,” declared Ichiro Nomura, assistant director-general of FAO’s fisheries department.
The EU is Canada’s second-largest seafood export market, trailing only the United States. Canadian seafood exports to the EU were valued at CAD 489 million (USD 466 million, EUR 308 million) last year.
“The global seafood marketplace is evolving to support sustainability and combat harmful practices such as IUU fishing,” said Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea. “I’m pleased our government has worked quickly and collaboratively with provincial governments and the fishing industry to ensure Canadian [seafood] exporters are able to respond and adjust to these new requirements.”