The growth and globalisation of international trade in aquatic animals has expanded rapidly over the last decade. Up until 2005, the importation of live fish was regulated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) under the Fisheries Act. However, the Fisheries Act was not specifically designed to prevent the introduction of aquatic animal diseases into Canada. To address this risk, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has assumed regulatory authority and is working with DFO on transition of the import programme for introduction of aquatic animals into Canada under the Health of Animals Act.
The CFIA has a long history of regulating the importation of terrestrial animals and animal products. As part of the new aquatic animal health program within CFIA, the proposed amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations will result in the inclusion of aquatic animals.
As part of the proposed regulatory changes, aquatic animal health permits will be required to import live aquatic animals into Canada, including specific regulated fish species, molluscs and crustaceans. Where possible, the aquatic animal import program will build on existing program infrastructure and operational networks. Consultation with regulated parties on regulatory change has been ongoing since 2005 and will continue as formal regulatory processes proceed. In addition, foreign countries and other interested parties will have the opportunity to comment on proposed changes through the Canada Gazette process. Regulatory changes to the importation of aquatic animals will not apply immediately once the Canada Gazette process is completed. To ensure all clients, importers and brokers fully understand this new requirement, a coming into force date of 1 March 2011 is being proposed to provide all regulated parties and foreign countries the proper time to comply with the new proposed regulatory requirements.
Import permits for live terrestrial animals and other regulated products can be found on the CFIA web site [click here]. Importers should be aware that any conditions associated with animal imports are posted on the Automated Import Retrieval System (AIRS).
Importers of aquatic animals are encouraged to become familiar with existing CFIA import permit system, AIRS, which will be used for the new aquatic animal health import programme.
About import permits
Most live terrestrial animal imports into Canada require a valid import permit. Permits contain specific requirements based on the health risks associated with the animal, the origin, and other relevant health information. Import permits for aquatic animals will be similar, and imports will require a health certification from the country of origin that the animals to be exported to Canada meet its aquatic animal health requirements.
For more information, click on these links:
Information CFIA provides for the aquatic animal industry includes: