Proposed amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations to implement the Port State Measures Agreement

Current status: Closed

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Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing

A 2008 study funded by the Government of the United Kingdom indicates that the global economic loss due to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing was between US$10-23 billion annually, representing 11-19% of the total reported catch worldwide. Fishing activities are well-regulated and strictly monitored in Canada; however, Canadians are not immune from the economic impacts of IUU fishing in international trade. Fish is one of the most globally traded food commodities. Approximately 85% of Canadian fish and seafood products are exported. As such, they can be affected by illegally harvested fish products that are cheaper and less sustainable.

IUU fish products undermine profitable opportunities for law-abiding fishing activities, as illegal fishing operations do not incur the costs associated with following rules and regulations. Since IUU fishing operations are concerned with short-term profit rather than longer-term concerns about preserving populations for future harvests, their fishing methods also undermine sustainable management efforts. There are also known links between IUU fishing and other criminal activities.

During the past decade, the international community has been developing global tools to address IUU fishing. Action is needed along the entire fishing value chain, from the time of capital investment and vessel registration, to fish harvesting, and to fish trade. A key tool in the fight against IUU fishing involves stopping illegally harvested fish and seafood products at ports in order to ensure that they do not enter markets. Port State measures are considered cost-effective compared to other methods of surveillance and enforcement, which are also necessary but much more expensive.

Port State Measures Agreement

The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was negotiated under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This new international treaty is also called the Port State Measures Agreement, or PSMA. Canada actively participated in the negotiations, signed the PSMA in November 2010 and is working towards ratification. This Agreement is an important milestone in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It sets global standards for actions that States must take in their ports when a foreign fishing vessel has engaged in or supported illegal fishing or related activities. It entered into force in July 2016 after 25 states or regional economic integration organizations (such as the European Union) became parties. There are currently 36 parties to the Agreement.

Please follow this link for more information on the Port State Measures Agreement and Canada's signature.

Legislative Amendments: Bill S-3

Through the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act (CFPA) and the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations (CFPR) Canada already implements a strong port access regime for foreign fishing vessels. Some amendments to the Act and its Regulations will be required to fully implement the PSMA. The CFPA has been amended to include:

  • a broader definition of “fishing vessel” to account for the rare occasion of a container vessel carrying fish not previously landed;
  • an expansion of inspection and enforcement powers of fishery protection officers to any place, including containers and warehouses and other areas where illegally harvested fish might be stored or hidden;
  • strengthening import prohibitions on fish and seafood products from illegal sources; and
  • clearer authorities for information sharing among federal departments and agencies and with other States and international fisheries organizations.

Parliament considered amendments to the Act in Bill S-3: An Act to Amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, also known as the Port State Measures Implementation Act.

Please follow this link for more information on Bill S-3 and its passage in Parliament.

Proposed Changes to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Regulations

The majority of proposed amendments to the CFPR will affect foreign businesses and/or foreign fishing vessels. Some proposed amendments could have impacts on some Canadian stakeholders, namely Canadian businesses that import certain fish and seafood products.

The amendments to the CFPA prohibit the importation of any fish or marine plant that is not accompanied by the documentation required by regulation.

Some Canadian businesses, namely importers/brokers, could be affected by the proposed regulations regarding documentation requirements for certain species. Some regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have trade-tracking measures in order to prevent IUU-caught fish from entering the international market. These include Catch Documentation Schemes (CDSs) and Statistical Documentation Programs (SDPs). It is expected that this trend will increase as responsible fishing nations implement more trade-tracking measures unilaterally and within RFMOs.

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 legally caught. Parties to the relevant treaties, such as those that establish RFMOs, are then required to prohibit the domestic trade, import, export and re-export of controlled species in the absence of a valid catch document. An SDP is similar, but only tracks fish and fish products from the point of imports and exports, i.e., those for domestic consumption are not tracked.

Please follow this link for more information on regional fisheries management organizations established by treaties to which Canada is party.

Some of the RFMOs of which Canada is a member have established trade tracking measures, including 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, Canada has committed to implementing the Commission's CDS for Patagonian Toothfish, also known as Chilean Sea Bass.

Canada may also wish to specify other documents to accompany imports of specific fish or marine plant species known to be at a high risk of IUU fishing, in order to verify that they were legally harvested. In such cases, the species and documents required would also be listed in the CFPR. As well, Canada might be interested in requiring documentation to accompany imports of specific fish or marine plant species for which there is a public policy interest in controlling such imports to ensure sustainability of the resource.

Import Documentation Fact Sheet

The following fact sheet provides more information on the trade tracking measures that could affect Canadian stakeholders:

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