Trade Tracking: Catch Documentation Schemes, Statistical Documentation Plans, and Documentation Requirements

This fact sheet has been prepared as part of a stakeholder consultation on proposed amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations (CFPR), consistent with recent amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act (CFPA) in Bill S-3, to implement the Port State Measures Agreement.

Under international law, countries are required to cooperate in the conservation and management of living marine resources. Such cooperation can be bilateral or multilateral through sub-regional, regional or global organizations or arrangements for the conservation and management of living marine resources. International regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) work to manage, conserve and protect straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks within the mandate of their respective convention areas in the high seas as governed by the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement. Since Canada is surrounded by three oceans, effective relations and collaboration with international partners are essential to managing shared fisheries. Canada is playing a recognized leadership role in strengthening RFMOs by promoting greater enforcement and more accountable decision-making based on the best available science. Canada also works with other States on the development of global norms on responsible fishing, including flag State responsibilities.

Some RFMOs have implemented trade-tracking measures in order to prevent fish caught by IUU fishing from entering international trade. These measures, which are commonly referred to as Catch Documentation Schemes (CDS) and Statistical Document Programs (SDP), have proven to be an effective tool in the prevention of IUU fishing.

A CDS requires all landings, transhipments, imports and exports of controlled species to be accompanied by a catch document identifying the origin of the fish and demonstrating that the fish have been harvested legally, meaning with authorization and in compliance with relevant conservation and management measures. Parties to the treaties that establish these RFMOs are required to prohibit the domestic trade, import, export and re-export of the relevant species of fish in the absence of a valid catch document. An SDP is like a CDS, but it only tracks fish and fish products from the point of import or export, i.e., those for domestic consumption are not tracked.

The proposed amendments to the CFPR would strengthen Canada's fish import regime by supplementing existing import restrictions related to food safety and endangered species. The amendments would create a prohibition on importation of any fish of fish products that are subject to a CDS or SDP if the documentation required to accompany imports of the product by that RFMO is not present. This would help prevent IUU fish from entering the global market and would also help prevent “fish laundering” (when illegally caught fish is landed or imported into one country and re-exported to another to disguise its origins).

Canada's Obligations

Canada is a member of two RFMOs that have established trade tracking measures for certain species of fish: the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Canada is also an acceding State to the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Although not a member of the Commission established under CCAMLR, Canada has committed to implementing its CDS requirements for Antarctic or Patagonian toothfish.

Canada has committed to implementing the CDS or SDP for five species of fish:

Bluefin Tuna: As a member of ICCAT, Canada has undertaken to implement a CDS for bluefin tuna. Under ICCAT's CDS, members are required to report all imports of bluefin tuna on a biannual basis.

Bigeye Tuna: Both ICCAT and IATTC have SDPs in place for bigeye tuna.

Patagonian Toothfish: As mentioned, Canada has committed to implement the CCAMLR CDS for the Antarctic Toothfish and the Patagonian Toothfish (also known as Chilean Seabass).

Swordfish: As a party to the ICCAT, Canada has undertaken to implement the SDP for swordfish.

Canada can also require fish imports to be accompanied by documentation required by RFMOs established under treaties to which Canada is not party. Currently, the RFMOs whose trade tracking measures are being considered for implementation in this way are:

  • The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC): SDP for Bigeye Tuna, and
  • The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT): CDS for Southern Bluefin Tuna.

It is anticipated that, in future, additional species of fish will be subject to CDS/SDP requirements of RFMOs, as more species become targets of IUU fishing. Based on current discussions within RFMOs of interest to Canada, trade tracking measures may be established by RFMOs for additional species of fish in the future. Canada could also choose to unilaterally adopt trade tracking measures for species of interest to Canada. Those documentation requirements would be added to the CFPR at the appropriate time.  

Impacts on Canadian Businesses

Some Canadian businesses, namely importers/brokers, could be directly affected, such that administrative and compliance activities might be required.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is now implementing the Single Window Initiative. Importers will be able to provide all required import information electronically using the online Integrated Import Declaration (IID) form. This will streamline and simplify the import process and will significantly reduce the paper burden on the business community.

Importers of fish or fish products will enter the requested information in the Commodity Description Field of the IID form. If documents are required for the species being imported, importers will also have to provide the relevant information in this section. This could include providing a CDS/SDP form number and/or uploading an image of the completed form. Therefore, it is anticipated that the main impact arising from the proposed amendments to the CFPR will be related to filling out this section of the form with the required documentation information. The potential costs to Canadian businesses are anticipated to relate to administrative activities (i.e., filling out this section of the IID form) and compliance activities (i.e., possible training related to this section of the IID form).