Fish Export Directive

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1. Purpose

This regulatory directive sets out the Canadian regulatory requirements for exporting fish and seafood products from Canada for commercial purposes and human consumption. This directive describes the responsibilities of the exporter as it applies to exporting fish and seafood products from Canada.

2. Scope

This directive applies to all persons who export fish from Canada, including registered establishments, holders of fish export licences and any other persons wishing to export fish.

3. Regulatory Authority

The Fish Inspection Act (Act) authorises the CFIA to regulate the safety and quality of fish products produced for export (i.e. international or interprovincial trade). Pursuant to this Act, the Fish Inspection Regulations (FIR) set out conditions that must be followed by exporters to export safe, wholesome fish and fish products that are labelled to be truthful.

4. Definitions - for the purpose of this directive

Certificate means a paper or electronic document issued by the CFIA that describes and attests to attributes of consignments of fish destined for international trade.

Exporter means the person who is shipping fish from Canada to another country or from one province to another.

Foreign country certification requirements means the conditions as identified on the certificates that are necessary to satisfy a foreign country's import requirements.

5. Export Directive

5.1 Product Requirements

5.1.1 Product Compliance [FIR, 6(1)(a)]

No person shall export or attempt to export any fish that is tainted, decomposed or unwholesome or otherwise fails to meet the requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations.

Products exported from Canada must comply with the requirements and standards set out in the Fish Inspection Regulations.

5.1.2 Product Permits [FIR, 18]

Under certain circumstances, the CFIA may issue a permit to allow the production and export of fish products that do not meet the Fish Inspection Act or Fish Inspection Regulations.

Products not meeting the requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations may be eligible for export only if a request is made and a permit from the CFIA is granted in accordance with the Permit Policy.

Permits will not be issued if it may result in:

  1. a public health and safety risk or reduce consumer protection;
  2. damage to the reputation of Canada's fish processing industry;
  3. the marketing to consumers of fish that is tainted, decomposed or unwholesome or otherwise fails to meet the Fish Inspection Regulations;
  4. the marketing to consumers of live or raw molluscs that are harvested from waters or handled and processed under conditions that may render them unwholesome; or
  5. the marketing to consumers of fish labelled in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive.

The Permit Policy is found in Chapter 2, Subject 7 of the Fish Products Inspection Manual.

5.2 Establishment Requirements

5.2.1 Eligible Exporters [FIR 14, FIR 15, FIR 15.1]

No person shall export fish unless the processing and storage of the fish is carried out in an establishment in compliance with the Fish Inspection Regulations.

Fish products originating in or having been further processed in Canada are eligible for export if:

  1. the fish was processed in a registered establishment that holds a valid certificate of registration issued as specified in the Fish Inspection Regulations 15(6); or
  2. the exporter of the fish has been issued a Fish Export Licence as specified in the Fish Inspection Regulations 15.1.

Facilities wishing to obtain a Certificate of Registration must submit an application to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and must be operated and maintained in accordance with the Fish Inspection Regulations.

Federal registration is available to all Canadian fish processing establishments where the operator of the establishment is willing and able to comply with the requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations.

Information concerning the requirements for federal registration is included in Chapter 2, Subject 1 of the Facilities Inspection Manual.

Persons wishing to obtain a Fish Export Licence must submit an application to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and comply with the requirements for Export Licencing as required by the Fish Inspection Regulations.

A Fish Export Licence is available to exporters who require a Fish Export Licence to comply with the requirements of the Fish Inspection Regulations or those who wish to obtain a partially completed certificate.

Information concerning the requirements for obtaining a Fish Export Licence is included in the Fish Export Licence Directive.

5.3 Requirements for Requesting a Certificate to Export Fish and Fish Products from Canada

5.3.1 Product Compliance to Canadian and Foreign Country Certification Requirements [FIR 9(1)]

Exporters requesting a fish Export Certificate must demonstrate that the fish complies with Canadian and foreign country certification requirements.

Export Certificates are documents that are negotiated between the CFIA on behalf of Canada and the foreign competent authority of the receiving country. In signing Export Certificates, the CFIA makes attestations to demonstrate the compliance of a product to a foreign country's requirements. The CFIA must obtain reasonable assurance that products meet foreign country certification requirements or the product must be inspected prior to signing an Export Certificate.

In order to demonstrate compliance with foreign country certification requirements, exporters must:

  1. be the holder of a Certificate of Registration and implement a Quality Management Program (QMP) with an acceptable element on export certification controls or implement an Export Certification Control Program (ECCP); or
  2. be the holder of a Fish Export Licence and implement an acceptable ECCP, or
  3. have each consignment of fish inspected by the CFIA prior to certification and export.

Products exported by the holder of a Certificate of Registration or a Fish Export Licence may be subject to product inspections prior to export certification at any time.

Information on controls required in an ECCP (RDIMS 3188728) by a holder of a certificate of registration or a fish export licence is found in the ECCP Reference Standard.

Important note: Accessibility to export markets may be limited. The receiving country may have other conditions such as Export Certificate attestations that limit access to that market for some products or processors, even if the above requirements are met. Some examples include: a specific requirement to be on a foreign country list of eligible exporter or a certificate attestation that specifies "Product of Canada" or "processed in a federally registered establishment".

In addition to meeting one of the above criteria, it is strongly recommended that exporters confirm if any additional foreign country requirements exist before exporting.

5.3.2 Fish Exported for Personal Consumption [FIR 3, FIR 9.1]

A certificate may be issued for fish that has been caught in accordance with a recreational or sport fishing licence issued under the Fisheries Act and that is to be exported for personal consumption or use to an importing country that requires that the fish be accompanied by a certificate issued by the exporting country.

When fish caught in accordance with a recreational or sport fishing licence is processed for personal use in an establishment other than a federally registered establishment or by the holder of a fish export licence, a certificate will only be issued if the establishments is licenced and regulated by a Provincial/Territorial Authority under agreement with the CFIA. The terms of a CFIA - Provincial/Territorial agreement must be established and complied with prior to issuance of certificates for personal consumption. The terms must ensure importing country requirements for personal consumption are met.

Fish caught in accordance with a recreational or sport fishing licence and processed in a federally registered establishment or by the holder of a fish export licence is considered an export for commercial purposes and this section does not apply.

The CFIA should be contacted well in advance of requesting certificates to ensure the requirements for certificates for personal consumption will be met.

5.3.3 Information Required when Requesting a Certificate

Exporters are required to provide complete and accurate information to the CFIA on fish to be certified.

The exporter must provide the CFIA with complete and accurate information on the fish to be certified prior to shipment of the product. Certificate requests missing the following information will not be processed: identify of the processor, country of destination, description of the product and availability for product inspection.

5.3.4 Making Product Available for Inspection [FIR 4, FIR 5, FIR 9(1)]

Exporters are required to have the fish available in Canada and accessible for inspection by CFIA inspectors when requesting a certificate.

Prior to signing a certificate, a CFIA inspector must assess if an inspection of the product is required and, if required, inspect the product. Exporter must make readily accessible any fish or containers of fish for which an inspection is required.

A certificate must be requested prior to shipping the fish from Canada. Products that are exported from Canada prior to the inspector determining if an inspection is required will not be certified.

5.4 Requirement to Protect Certified Consignments [FIR 22]

Exporters are required to ensure the integrity of certified shipments while the cargo is under their control.

This requirement applies whether or not the exporter has direct or indirect control of the fish. This means, the exporter has the same responsibilities whether or not the exporter is transporting and storing the fish or the exporter has hired another party to transport or store the fish.

Exporters must ensure that fish are stored and transported under sanitary conditions and protected from contamination while the consignment is under their control.

5.5 Maintaining the Integrity of Certificates [FIA 9(1)]

No person shall falsify or unlawfully alter, destroy, erase or obliterate any inspection certificate issued under the Fish Inspection Act or Fish Inspection Regulations.

Certificates issued by the CFIA must not be altered in anyway except by a CFIA Fish Inspector.

In the case of partially completed certificates, the information completed by the CFIA must not be altered by anyone including the user of the certificate. Exporters may only add information to a partially completed certificate if that information was previously agreed to by the CFIA (e.g. in the exporter's ECCP (RDIMS 3188728) or certification controls).

5.6 Certification Fees [FIR 9(3)]

Exporters are required to pay the applicable certificate fees as set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Fees Notice.

Certification fees are prescribed in the CFIA Fees Notice.

The CFIA's cost recovery procedures for domestic product inspection/certification can be found in Chapter 2, Subject 6 of the Fish Products Inspection Manual.

5.7 Health and Safety Notification [FIR 6.01]

An exporter who receives information that questions the safety of the fish they exported must investigate. If the investigation indicates that the fish constitutes a hazard to the public, the CFIA must be notified within 24 hours.

Exporters must immediately verify any complaints and information received questioning the safety of a product. Complaints and information received are deemed valid if it is determined that:

  1. the exporter has exported the product in question; and
  2. the complaint or information concerns a real or potential illness or injury.

Once an exporter confirms that they have exported a product that may or has caused illness or injury, the exporter must notify the CFIA as soon as possible within 24 hours. Exporters are encouraged to contact the CFIA at any point when verifying reports of potential health and safety issues.

A list of after-hours contact numbers and emergency response references for Food Recall and Emergency Response is available online.

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