Labelling and Traceability

Are you eating seafood in the dark?

Have you ever bought seafood and wondered what fish you’re actually buying? According to Canadian guidelines, a package labeled as “rockfish” could be one of more than 100 possible species, some of which are endangered, and others which are sustainably caught.

Canadians deserve to know more about their seafood. But Canada’s labelling laws do not require seafood providers to properly label their product with the necessary information that will help consumers make well-informed decisions. This makes it difficult for Canadians to find healthy choices for the oceans and for their family too. It also gets in the way of important economic opportunities for Canada’s fishing industry – aligning our labelling with that of our major trading partners, namely the United States and the European Union, will facilitate smoother sale and trade operations for Canadian businesses. (Download our briefing document to learn more).

Comparing Labels: EU, USA and Canada — Other countries have more stringent requirements, so why don’t we? The graphic above shows how the same fish species (Sebastes flavidus) is required to be labelled in the EU, USA and Canada. Canada’s label is void of any detail.

We need your voice!

Canadian’s should demand better seafood labelling. Currently, the only regular requirement for seafood sold in Canada is that it lists a common name on the packaging or label.  But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reviewing its practices and asking Canadians for input on food labelling.  Please lend your support to our recommendations for seafood labelling.

Sign our petition before it closes on February 23, 2017.

We are asking that seafood packaging also list:

Geographic Origin – The location of catch or the location of the aquaculture operation should be clear to consumers.

Scientific Name – The use of a species scientific name ensures greater clarity. Common names apply to different species and can vary from region to region and language to language. But a species has just one scientific name.

Production Method (Farmed or Wild) – This simple piece of information can have huge sustainability implications.

Gear Type or Farming Method – The gear type for wild caught seafood can have very different impacts on the ocean floor and on other species accidentally caught in the gear. For farm-raised fish, different farming methods can have very different impacts on the surrounding environment and the native species that live there.

Want to know more?

Download our briefing document for further information on how Canadian’s are eating seafood in the dark – and what needs to change.

Watch this SeaChoice video on labelling and traceability:

Ask retailers questions!

Canadians deserve to know more about where their food comes from so that they can use their consumer power to make well-informed decisions. The SeaChoice seafood guides and iPhone apps empower Canadians with the information to choose their seafood responsibly. Unfortunately, without proper labelling, it can be difficult to know what kind of fish you are buying, where it was caught or harvested and how it was caught or farmed.

To help encourage proper labelling with your retailer, you can ask these three easy questions when you shop or dine:

  • What type of seafood is this?
  • Where was it fished or farmed?
  • How was it caught or farmed?

If your seafood provider is unable to answer these important questions, try these helpful tips:

  • Ask to speak to another employee or the supervisor/ manager.
  • Suggest phoning their seafood supplier for more details.
  • Keep trying! Retailers ultimately want to make their customers happy so if they hear the same questions enough, they will look for the answers.
  • Vote with your wallet and shop somewhere where they can answer your questions.

Related Work:

Future of Fish – traceability toolkit

Conservation Alliance for Sustainable Seafood – traceability resource centre

Past SeaChoice Blogs:

Does traceable mean sustainable?

Does your seafood label look a little bit fishy?!

Diving deeper into seafood labelling