Process for the regulation of fishing vessels and landing sites used to unload, handle, hold or transport fish

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1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to describe: the intent and objective of the Fish Inspection Act and Regulations; the approach taken by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to verify compliance; and the roles and responsibilities of the fishing vessel operators and fish processors, as applicable to the regulation of fishing vessels and landing sites.

2.0 Scope

This document applies to:

  1. Processors using their Quality Management Program (QMP) plan controls to ensure fish are suitable for further processing upon receipt;
  2. Operators of fishing vessels used to harvest and/or transport fish;
  3. People who use landing sites and the equipment and vehicles used for unloading, holding, and transporting fish intended for processing and/or export.  

3.0 Reference

This guidance is issued under the authorities of the Fish Inspection Act (FIA) and the Fish Inspection Regulations (FIR).

4.0 Overview

The objective of the Fish Inspection Act and Fish Inspection Regulations is to provide reasonable assurance exported fish products were processed under sanitary conditions, are safe for human consumption, and are wholesome and properly identified. To achieve this, the CFIA is committed to a risk based regulatory oversight of the entire fish production chain.

The risk based approach recognizes that the activities associated with harvesting fish on fishing vessels and subsequent unloading, handling, holding and transportation at landing sites represent a lower level of risk than those activities performed at fish processing establishments.

Operators of registered processing establishments are expected to apply preventative controls through their QMP Plans to ensure that incoming raw materials are acceptable for further processing.

The CFIA will verify that regulated parties comply with the FIR, and take actions to promote compliance in accordance with the principles described in the Fish Inspection Program Compliance Management Process.

The preventative controls applied by registered fish processors’ QMP Plans and CFIA regulatory verification activities provide an appropriate level of protection that facilitates the trade of products that comply with Canadian requirements and those of Canada’s trading partners.

5. Requirements

5.1 Processors are responsible for implementing controls and conducting a hazard analysis as defined in the QMP Reference Standard to ensure that incoming fish are of acceptable quality, and delivered to the establishment in a manner that protects the fish from contamination, spoilage, and growth of micro-organisms. 

These controls are to be based on Schedule III of FIR, the “Requirements for Vessels Used for Fishing or Transporting Fish” and Schedule V of the FIR, the “Requirements for Conveyances and Equipment Used for Unloading, Handling, Holding and Transporting Fresh Fish.

5.2 Processors are responsible for verifying the effectiveness of controls over identified hazards as they apply along the production chain, including the steps that occur on board fishing vessels and when fish is landed, handled, held and subsequently transported to the establishment.

Identification of incidents of non-compliances with the FIR resulting in products that are unsafe must be reported to CFIA.

5.3 Fishing Vessel Operators are responsible for meeting the “Requirements for Vessels Used for Fishing or Transporting Fish” described in Schedule III of FIR. Persons using landing sites are responsible to meet the “Requirements for Conveyances and Equipment Used for Unloading, Handling, Holding and Transporting Fresh Fish” as described in Schedule V of the FIR.

5.4 CFIA is responsible for conducting the verification activities to enhance industry compliance to Schedule III and Schedule V of FIR using a risk based approach.

5.4.1. The controls at fish processing establishments will be verified by the CFIA for compliance with the requirements described in the QMP Reference Standard. This includes verifying that that the processor is: ensuring that their Hazard Analysis is complete and accurate; applying controls as designed in the QMP Plan; and performing the verification and maintenance activities required to ensure that the controls effectively result in incoming fish that are safe and acceptable for further processing.

5.4.2. The CFIA provides regulated parties with compliance guidelines respecting the requirements set out by Schedules III and V of the FIR applicable to operators of fishing vessels used to harvest and/or transport fish, landing sites, equipment and vehicles used for unloading, holding, and transport of fish which are intended for processing and/or export.

The CFIA will take appropriate compliance and enforcement actions in response to information relating to non-compliance with the regulations indicating that fish were exposed to serious contamination. The sources of information include, but are not limited to, results of compliance verification activities at registered fish processing establishments, or notification from the operator of a registered fish processing establishment that fish delivered to the establishment were unsafe.

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