Canadian government partnering with three industry organizations, investing C$816,000 across three projects to build fish, seafood traceability system that will boost sector's competitiveness

OTTAWA, Ontario , November 29, 2011 (press release) – The Government of Canada is partnering with three industry organizations to put in place the building blocks for a fish and seafood traceability system that will enhance the sector's competitiveness at home and abroad, Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux announced in Ottawa today, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. The announcement was made at a Seafood Value Chain Round Table meeting that brings together the entire industry as well as government representatives, to discuss ways to make the sector more competitive and increase sales worldwide.

"The implementation of a traceability system will greatly benefit the Canadian fish and seafood sectors by opening up more markets," said Mr. Lemieux. "This system is a win-win as it allows us to demonstrate Canada's solid fisheries and aquaculture management practices, animal health emergency management, and food safety systems, all while boosting the bottom line of our producers."

The government is reinforcing the industry's efforts through targeted investments in three pioneering projects put forward by the Fisheries Council of Canada, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance and the Lobster Council of Canada. Together, they are receiving up to $816,000 in funding under the Canadian Industry Traceability Infrastructure Program component of the Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative (CIFSI) –

* The Lobster Council of Canada will develop a traceability system and conduct a pilot in eastern Canada, representing every stage of the lobster value chain, from boat to plate.

* The Fisheries Council of Canada will develop and pilot a Canadian eco-certification system as part of a traceability initiative to certify fisheries products as responsibly harvested and to track them from harvest to final sale. The eco-certification system will be based on United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) guidelines for the seafood sector, assuring buyers and consumers that their food can be traced to sustainable fishing operations.

* The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance's national seafood certification and traceability project will develop and pilot a FAO-based certification system for use across the Canadian aquaculture sector, assuring buyers and consumers that their farmed seafood has been produced in an environmentally-responsible manner, and with solid management practices for food safety and quality.

"Our major customers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe demand that fisheries are well-managed and sustainable, and that our products are fully traceable. Our project will develop the standards to deliver on these demands," said Patrick McGuinness, FCC President.

The Lobster Council's acting chair, Léonard LeBlanc, said, "Our hope is that the pilot tests will broaden the industry's collective knowledge and understanding of the workings of full-chain traceability."

Ruth Salmon, CAIA's executive director, said, "This FAO-based certification model will provide a credible, comprehensive and internationally relevant option for demonstrating industry commitment to seafood buyers and the Canadian public."

These three projects support the priority of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Agriculture Ministers to develop national traceability systems for Canada's agriculture and food sectors. The Seafood Value Chain Round Table continues to support the development of additional traceability elements that will build on existing animal health and food safety systems and demonstrate environmental responsibility, therefore supporting continued access to international and domestic markets for Canadian products.

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