Canada: New organic standard for farmed seafood

Source: Canadian Aquaculture


With the release of the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard in May 2012, Canadian consumers will now have the opportunity to choose certified organic farmed seafood including finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants, Canadian Aquaculture reports. Aquaculture produces about 50 % of the seafood consumed today. Like its organic terrestrial counterpart, the organic aquatic sector uses specific farming protocols which minimize the input of synthetic substances and maximize local environmental quality. Specifically, the organic aquaculture standard prohibits the use of antibiotics, herbicides and genetically modified organisms, and severely restricts the use parasiticides, allowed only under veterinary supervision as a last course of treatment. The standard sets measurable requirements for practices that minimize the impact of waste. These include defining stocking rates, cleaning procedures and the cleaning and feed materials that must be used.

The new standard was developed with the Canadian General Standards Board and a stakeholder committee of industry members, consumer advocates, regulators and environmental organizations. It does not currently fall under the scope of Canada’s Organic Products Regulations or Canada’s trade equivalencies for organic products with the United States or European Union. More information on the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard is available here:

There are critical voices on this standard, however. Various organisations in Canada have expressed concern over the undermining of the Canadian ‘organic’ label by a new organic standard that would allow net-pen aquaculture products to be certified. By including open-net pen finfish in to the organic aquaculture standard, the standard fails at one of its claimed principles, to ‘Protect the environment, minimize benthic degradation and erosion and water quality degradation, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health’, reports.

“The finfish standards would allow conventional open net pen farmed salmon to be certified organic despite the large body of scientific evidence linking this farming practice to detrimental impacts on wild salmon and on the marine environment,” stated Matt Abbott from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “Organic producers and customers should be concerned as this weak aquaculture standard threatens the integrity of all organic labels,” he concluded. The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), Conservation Council of New Brunswick and Ecology Action Centre have launched a website to provide more information on the concerns associated with the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard and how shoppers can make a difference by supporting sustainable aquaculture producers. More information is available here:




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