Exporting aquatic animals from Canada: overview
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for certifying that aquatic animals and their products for export do not pose human and animal health risks.
Who in the CFIA is responsible for aquatic animals and seafood exports?
The CFIA has a dual role pertaining to the exports of aquatic animals and seafood products:
- Export certification related to quality and safety of fish and seafood products destined for further processing or direct human consumption. For additional information please refer to the Fish, Seafood and Production Division.
- Certification of the health status of aquatic animal exports, with respect to the risk of introduction or movement of an aquatic animal disease into a receiving country. For additional information please refer to the Aquatic Animal Health Division.
Who determines the exact requirements for aquatic animal and animal products?
The importing country sets the conditions for export. There are several steps that need to be taken to determine the requirements for export of Canadian aquatic animals and their products.
- Exporters should determine the importing country's requirements by checking with the importer and that country's government officials.
- Exporters contact the CFIA, which will assess and determine if the Canadian aquatic animals or products are eligible for export (i.e., do they meet the importing country's conditions).
- For situations where there are food safety and aquatic animal health requirements, approval must be obtained from both Divisions within the CFIA.
- If export requirements can be met, the CFIA will issue an export certificate to allow the animals or products to enter the importing country.
- If the requirements cannot be met, the CFIA may enter into bilateral negotiations with the importing country to attempt to resolve the conditions in a manner which would provide equivalent science-based assurances for the protection of human and or animal health for safe trade and market access for the export.
If an importing country wants to know if my product is safe, whom do I contact?
Exporters should request an official copy of the importing country's requirements and then contact their local CFIA office.
Why is export certification required?
Every country has the authority to protect their consumers from unsafe seafood and to prevent introduction of aquatic animal diseases that may impact their aquatic resources.
Why is aquatic animal health certification sometimes required for the export of seafood products destined for consumption?
Seafood can be exported live or for further processing before human consumption. This means that the aquatic animals may be re-immersed in water in the importing country or processed in plants where effluent is discharged into the environment. Introducing potentially infected animals or animal products are potential avenues for disease introduction.
What if an exporter cannot meet the importing country's certification requirements?
If CFIA officials determine that your aquatic animals or product do not meet the importing country's requirements, you will be informed that immediate access to this market is not possible. The ability to gain market access will depend on negotiations with the importing country. Resolution is dependent on many factors and negotiation is not always successful.
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