Victoria, B.C. – The province of B.C. has updated its Fish and Seafood Act to better reflect today’s concerns with sustainability and food safety, including traceability.
The Act will replace the Fish Inspection Act and the Fisheries Act.
The Act was last updated in the 1960s. The changes also improve operating conditions for industry workers and will enhance consumer confidence.
“Modernizing fish and seafood legislation in B.C. is long overdue, and modernizing these laws will be good for the growth of the seafood sector in B.C.,” says Jeremy Dunn, the executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, we are encouraged that government is committed to doing that work, and look forward to being involved in an engaged consultative process to develop meaningful regulations.”
The new legislation will update licensing and regulation of the buying, selling, handling, storing and processing of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants.
Other measures include:
• Enabling the creation of a seafood traceability system to ensure seafood processed in B.C. is both safe and legally caught, cultured, bought and sold. The system will ensure B.C. seafood products are responsibly produced and harvested, and can be traced from the processor to the consumer.
• Prohibiting the possession of illegally caught, cultured, harvested or processed seafood products, and the unlicensed sale of fish, ensuring only sustainably harvested and safely handled seafood products enter the food chain.
The new Act also increases inspection and enforcement by:
• Granting inspectors the authority to make orders, including orders for seizure and destruction of contaminated food, and recall orders if unsafe food has been distributed.
• Requiring licence holders to record all transactions including species, size, weight and source to support traceability and food safety requirements.
• Requiring operators to ensure staff are properly trained to comply with all standards.
• Modernizing outdated inspection powers, with penalties for offences such as failure to ensure safe food, and possession and distribution of restricted fish and aquatic plants, reaching a maximum of $50,000 per day for individuals and $200,000 per day for corporations.
• Enabling administrative penalties for less serious contraventions.
The new Act will also support B.C. seafood businesses by removing outdated references and conflicting sections of the outdated legislation. The Ministry of Agriculture will work with the seafood sector and related stakeholders as the ministry develops the regulations that will establish the licensing system.
The ministry says the Act was developed following consultations with federal and provincial agencies, as well as a 2012 public web-based consultation where 57 organizations participated in including First Nations, fishers, seafood sector and local government representatives.
To view the legislation, click here.