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Seafood farmers and consumers have an organic option

The new Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard means farmers can apply it to their production methods and consumers have the option of purchasing organic


Ottawa – Canadian consumers will now be able to choose certified organic farmed seafood – including finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants – thanks to a new organic aquaculture standard.

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) released the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard late last week.

Aquatic farming relies on plant and animal husbandry, so it is possible to apply organic growing and rearing principles to this system of food production, says the COTA.

Just like its organic terrestrial counterpart, the organic aquatic sector can use specific farming protocols that minimize the input of synthetic substances and maximize local environmental quality.

Organic standard

COTA says the organic aquaculture standard prohibits:
• the use of antibiotics;
• herbicides; and
• genetically modified organisms.

It also 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 Canadian General Standards Board and a stakeholder committee of industry members, consumer advocates, regulators and environmental organizations developed the new standard.

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

To qualify

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. Third-party certifying bodies will inspect farms 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 U.S. or E.U.

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 seafood.