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New Organic Standards Released for Canadian Farmed Seafood

Stephanie Wells
(250) 335-3423
Ottawa , ON
May 10, 2012
) — 

 With the release of the Canadian Organic Aquaculture
Standard on May 10, Canadian consumers will now have the opportunity to choose
certified organic farmed seafood including finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants.

Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic plants and animals, is the fastest growing food
production system in the world, producing about 50 percent of the seafood consumed
today. Because aquatic farming relies on plant and animal husbandry, it is possible to
apply organic growing and rearing principles to this system of food production. Like its
organic terrestrial counterpart, the organic aquatic sector uses specific farming protocols
which minimize the input of synthetic substances and maximize local environmental

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. The draft standard went through two extensive public
reviews and countless changes before being published this week.

“The industry works hard to maintain its high standards,” said Ruth Salmon, Executive
Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA), “and organic certification
will provide an opportunity for some of our farmers to apply organic standards to their
methods of production.”

To qualify for organic certification, Canadian aquaculture products must have been
grown on farms operating in accordance with organic aquatic farming methods
established by the new standards. Farms are inspected by third-party certifying bodies to
ensure that the standard has been followed. The new national standard 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.
“Until now, organic claims could show up on aquaculture products from outside the
country and consumers wouldn’t know whether the claims were trustworthy or what
standards they met,” said Matthew Holmes, Executive Director of the Canada Organic
Trade Association. “Now we have a made-in-Canada standard that clearly and verifiably
defines the environmental and husbandry requirements, and meets consumers’
expectations for a high-water mark for this quickly-growing Canadian sector.”

The Canada Organic Trade Association is the membership-based trade association for
the organic sector in Canada, representing growers, shippers, processors, certifiers,
farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others
in the organic value chain. COTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of
organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.
The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance is a national association representing
Canada’s seafood farmers. With membership comprised of finfish, shellfish and aquatic
plant farmers, feed companies and suppliers, as well as provincial aquaculture
associations, CAIA is a passionate advocate for the quality and sustainability of farmed

To learn more about the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard visit

Organic Aquaculture FAQ (pdf)

New Organic Standards Released for Canadian Farmed Seafood (French version).

For further information:
Stephanie Wells
Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor
Canada Organic Trade Association

Ruth Salmon
Executive Director
Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance