How seafood sourced illegally or with forced labour could end up on your plate - Oceana Canada
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August 31, 2022

How seafood sourced illegally or with forced labour could end up on your plate

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Did you know that the majority of seafood bought and sold in Canada is imported? It is also one of the most highly traded food commodities in the world, with notoriously long and complex supply chains. It’s no wonder that some portion of the seafood that ends up on our plates could be caught illegally or sourced with forced labour. But how exactly does this happen and how can we put a stop to this?

Simply put, seafood bought and sold in Canada has very weak traceability standards. And without DNA analysis and strong labelling requirements, its currently almost impossible to know where your seafood came from, how it was caught, what species it is and whether or it was caught legally under safe working conditions. In murky global seafood supply chains, overfished, mislabelled and endangered fish are all fair game. Forced labourers can work under brutal conditions and illegal practices are left to run rampant.

In a recent report commissioned by Oceana, it was revealed that seafood is routinely harvested and processed by workers in conditions that are unacceptable by international human rights standards. These violations are also often associated with unsustainable fishing, or illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Some seafood bought and sold in Canada can be traced back to fisheries that operate under unthinkable conditions, making Canada unwittingly complicit in forced labour in a range of global fisheries.

There is a solution that can help fight these abuses and reward good fishing practices and honest fishers: traceable, transparent seafood supply chains. In 2019, the Canadian government pledged to implement boat-to-plate traceability, where information follows the seafood from point of harvest to the final consumer. In 2021, the government further pledged to introduce new laws to keep products of forced labour out of the Canadian supply chain. Since these pledges were made, no concrete action has been taken. That’s why we need your help!

Canadians overwhelmingly support seafood traceability and want the government to act. Nearly 90 per cent of Canadians support the federal government taking action to prevent products of forced, unpaid labour being sold in Canada. Ninety-two per cent of Canadians also want to see information about where, when and how seafood products were caught on seafood labels. . It’s time for the government to listen and implement these changes.

You can help us put an end to forced labour in Canada’s seafood supply chains. Add your voice and call on the government #StopSeafoodExploitation. Sign our petition >>