Organic Aquaculture - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Note: These FAQs address only the process that the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) uses to revise the national standards. Other departments and agencies of the Government of Canada are responsible for addressing issues that are outside of the CGSB's mandate. Where the CGSB cannot provide an answer, it does indicate where further assistance may be obtained.

General FAQs on the CGSB and Standards

1. What is the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB)?

The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) is a federal government organization that offers client-centred, comprehensive standards development and conformity assessment services in support of the economic, regulatory, procurement, health, safety and environmental interests of our stakeholders - government, industry and consumers.

CGSB is an organization within Public Works and Government Services Canada. It offers standardization products and services, including standards development, product evaluation, certification and quality assessment.

CGSB is a member of Canada's National Standards System, and is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada The WWW icon indicates an external link as a standards-development, certification, and registration organization. CGSB supports the government's economic, regulatory, procurement, health and safety interests.

2. What is the work of CGSB?

Accredited by the Standards Council of Canada The WWW icon indicates an external link, the CGSB offers programs and services in Standards Development, Registration, and Certification and Qualification - Products and Services. Currently we are responsible for approximately 915 standards and specifications, as well as conformity assessment programs with over 500 customers world-wide.

Established in 1934, CGSB is a charter participant in the National Standards System of Canada.

3. What is a standard?

A document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

Note : Standards should be based on the consolidated results of science, technology and experience, and aimed at the promotion of optimum community benefits.

4. What is a National Standard of Canada?

A National Standard of Canada is a document approved by the Standards Council of Canada The WWW icon indicates an external link that contains requirements and definitions for a specific product or activity. A National Standard of Canada can be developed by CGSB or by another accredited Standards Development Organization.

The designation National Standard of Canada indicates that a standard is recognized as the official Canadian standard in a particular subject area or topic. Before a standard can become a national standard, it must be approved by the Standards Council of Canada The WWW icon indicates an external link, Canada's national accreditation body.

Inclusion of the abbreviation "CAN" in the prefix of the standard's reference number indicates that a particular standard has been designated a National Standard of Canada.

Approval as a National Standard of Canada, indicates that the development of that standard has met certain requirements, including that it has been:

  • Developed by consensus from a balanced committee of stakeholders;
  • Subjected to public scrutiny;
  • Published in both official languages;
  • Consistent with or incorporates existing international and pertinent foreign standards; and
  • Not act as a barrier to trade. National Standards of Canada may be developed in Canada or adopted from international standards, with or without changes.

5. Why are standards important?

Standards play an important role in everyday life. They may establish size or shape or capacity of a product, process or system. They can specify performance of products or personnel. They also can define terms so that there is no misunderstanding among those using the standard.

Standards ensure consistency of vital features of goods and services, e.g. safety, interoperability. They help make the development, manufacturing and supply of goods and services more efficient, safer and cleaner. Standards make trade between countries easier and fairer and help safeguard users and consumers.

6. Are standards mandatory or voluntary?

All National Standards of Canada are voluntary standards. However, some CGSB standards have become mandatory because they are referenced in regulation by a regulatory body or in procurement schemes.

A standard becomes law if a federal, provincial, or municipal government references it in legislation.

7. Where can I find out what standards CGSB has published?

The list of standards that CGSB has published is available in our catalogue.

8. Where can I purchase CGSB standards?

CGSB standards can be purchased on the CGSB Purchase Standards.

FAQs on the Standards Development Process

9. What is CGSB's role in the development of standards?

CGSB administers the standards development process by establishing and supporting balanced standards committees that represent producers, users, general interest and regulatory members, to arrive at voluntary consensus standards.

CGSB Standards Policy and Procedures Manuals are followed in the development and maintenance of the voluntary consensus standards.

10. Who can become a member of a CGSB standards committee?

All CGSB standards committee members are volunteers. Membership in a CGSB standards committee is open to any individual or organization that has a direct interest in the standards committee's decisions, an expressed interest in standards development and are able to make an active contribution. The precise composition of each standards committee depends on the subject of the standard under development, but generally includes producers, users, general interest and regulatory representatives.

A standards committee has two types of members: voting and information (non-voting). CGSB strives to ensure that the representation from each category is balanced to prevent any single group from dominating the standards committee's voting procedures.

11. Who decides which standards committee members are voting or non-voting?

CGSB grants voting status to those members requesting it, provided that this measure preserves balanced representation from producer, user, general interest and regulatory groups while ensuring regional representation.

It is CGSB policy that, whenever possible, organizations rather than individuals hold voting memberships in its standards committees. CGSB strives to ensure that the voting membership of its standards committees represents Canadian national interests on trade, health and safety, and the environment.

12. Who approves and promulgates the standard?

Approval of the technical elements of the standards is the responsibility of CGSB Standards Committees. Approval of the procedural elements of the standards is the responsibility of the CGSB Panel on Process Assurance. Approval of the standards as National Standards of Canada is the responsibility of the Standards Council of Canada The WWW icon indicates an external link.

13. How is the standard approved?

A draft standard is provided in a ballot to the voting members of the responsible Standards Committee.

Approval of the draft standard by these voting members must be achieved by consensus.

Formal committee approval of the standard requires more than 50% of the members who are eligible to vote cast affirmative votes, and 2/3 of the votes cast are affirmative.

See The Standards Development Process at the Canadian General Standards Board.

14. What does consensus mean?

Consensus is a general agreement, characterized by the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests and by a process seeking to take into account the views of all parties concerned and to reconcile any conflicting arguments.

Note 1: Consensus need not imply unanimity.
Note 2: The absence of sustained opposition is not intended to provide a 'veto' to any one party.

15. Where can I get more information about how standards are developed?

The CGSB Standards Policy and Procedures Manuals for the Development and Maintenance of Standards detail the requirements for the initiation, development, preparation, approval and maintenance of CGSB and National Standard of Canada standards.

Also see The Standards Development Process at the Canadian General Standards Board.

FAQs on the Organic Aquaculture Standard

16. Why is it important to have a Canadian standard on Organic Aquaculture?

It is expected that this standard will help industry overcome present and future trade barriers for organic aquaculture products and will help create niche markets for small- and medium-sized companies. It is also expected that governments will benefit from a consistent national standard and will be better able to defend trade agreements with Canada's trading partners. Finally, a national standard would facilitate Canada's management of organic aquaculture product imports from other jurisdictions.

Consumers' demand for certified organic products is growing for a wide variety of reasons. With the addition of organic aquaculture products there will be a better opportunity to satisfy the expectations of consumers. With a national standard the consumers will be able to verify that the products they are buying meet a consistent national standard whether they are produced in Canada or imported.

17. Who initiated the development of the National Standard for Organic Aquaculture?

In 2008, the Canadian Organic Aquatic Producers Association (COAP) approached the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for financial assistance to develop a national organic standard. DFO also agreed to provide financial support for an experienced consultant to facilitate the industry-led working group for the development of a working draft standard.

18. How did the CGSB become involved in the development of the standard?

In 2008, the Canadian Organic Aquatic Producers Association (COAP) approached the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for financial assistance to develop a national organic standard. In September 2009, CGSB entered into an agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to develop a National Standard of Canada for Organic Aquaculture.

19. Who developed the Working Draft of the standard?

An industry-led working group developed the first draft of the standard, to be used as a basis for discussion by the CGSB Standards Committee on Organic Aquaculture. The working group selected its members, based on their technical expertise and experience in developing the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Producers Association (COAP) organic standards in 2005 or their participation in the development of Canada's organic agriculture standard. Members represented industry, provincial and federal government regulators, retail, consumer organization, organic agriculture producers, and organic associations.

20. What does the draft standard cover?

This draft standard describes the principles and management standards of organic aquaculture and provides lists of substances that are allowed for use in organic aquaculture.

The draft standard specifies criteria that must be met when food products and other inputs used in organic production are described as organic, including production, processing and handling of organically produced foods. These minimum requirements must be met or exceeded in order to meet this standard for organic aquaculture.

The draft standard includes sections on Definitions and Terminology; Organic Plan, which includes Record Keeping and Identification; Aquatic Plant Production; Aquaculture Animal Production; Permitted Substances Lists for Aquaculture Plant Production; Permitted Substances Lists for Aquaculture Animal Production; Pest Control Substances; Substances for cleaning and disinfection of equipment and facilities, in the absence of aquatic plant and aquaculture animals. The Permitted Substances Lists, provides lists of substances that are allowed for use in organic production systems. They are not a list of commercial products.

The standard will not cover issues such as implementation and regulations, which are outside the scope of the Standard Committee on Organic Aquaculture's mandate.

21. Were the requirements of other countries considered?

CGSB process involves the consideration of Foreign and International Standards in the development of National Standards of Canada. Members of the working group took into consideration the requirements for organic aquaculture from the United States and the European Union when developing the working draft.

22. Who is on the Standards Committee on Organic Aquaculture?

Membership on a CGSB standards committee is open to individuals and representatives or organizations who are technically qualified or otherwise knowledgeable in the subject area of the committee. Members of this committee represent industry, provincial and federal government regulators, aboriginal groups, academia, research, retail, consumer organizations, organic agriculture producers, organic associations and representatives from environmental non-governmental organizations. Other individuals or groups may indicate their interest by contacting the CGSB directly.

Currently the CGSB Committee on Organic Aquaculture has a total of 50 members, 31 voting and 19 non-voting, representing a comprehensive cross-section of producers, general interest, regulators and users interested in organic aquaculture.

23. How were the current members of the Standards Committee on Organic Aquaculture chosen?

All organizations which were members of the technical working group that developed the draft of the standard were invited to continue as members of the Committee. The CGSB then compiled an initial list of potential Committee members by drawing upon several sources including association indexes, government indexes, Web sites, conference information, media sources, and discussion with the sponsor. The CGSB sent potential members a letter to invite their participation as well as their suggestions for membership.

24. How many organizations may participate in the development of this standard?

There is no minimum or maximum limit. However, the committee must allow for a balanced presentation of viewpoints from diverse user, producer, general interest and regulatory groups. The committee also includes a number of non-voting members, referred to as information members.

25. Who chairs the Standards Committee on Organic Aquaculture and how is the chairperson chosen?

The Standards Committee members select their own chairperson. The current Chairperson is Justin Henry. He is a representative from Land-based Aquaculture Association of Western Canada (LAAWC). The LAAWC consists of land-based aquaculture producers in British Columbia, Alberta, and Yukon, growing fish in both fresh and brackish water.

The association currently represents the land-based culture of six different species of fish, including both finfish and shellfish as well as plants through aquaponics. Some LAAWC members have been pioneers in the development of organic aquaculture in Western Canada.

26. Will the standard be final after the first public review period?

No, the standard will not be final after the first public review period that closed on August 30, 2010.

The first meeting of the CGSB Committee on Organic Aquaculture will be convened in October by CGSB to discuss the draft standard and the comments received during the public review period. A series of meetings will be held and draft standards will be developed. A second 60-day public review will take place prior to the committee vote on the standard.

27. Will this standard be voluntary or mandatory?

All National Standards are voluntary unless they are referenced in regulation However, some CGSB standards have become mandatory because they are referenced in regulation by a regulatory body or in procurement schemes. Any decision regarding mandatory labelling would be taken by such a regulatory body, in this case the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

28. How will the standard be developed?

A series of meetings will be held and draft standards will be developed. The standard, once approved by consensus, through a vote by the members of Standards Committee, will be submitted to the Standards Council of Canada The WWW icon indicates an external link as a candidate National Standard of Canada.

Also see The Standards Development Process at the Canadian General Standards Board.

29. Will there be public consultations?

The public has the first opportunity to comment on the draft standard during the first 60-day CGSB public review period which commenced on June 30, 2010 and closed on August 30, 2010. The first meeting of the CGSB Committee on Organic Aquaculture will be convened in October by CGSB to discuss the draft standard and the comments received during the public review period. A second 60-day public review will take place prior to the committee vote on the standard.

The current draft standard, as well as any future draft standards, are available upon request from CGSB, by contacting:

Secretary, Committee on Organic Aquaculture
Canadian General Standards Board
Place du Portage III, 6B1
11 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1G6

Telephone: 819-956-0425
Toll-free: 1-800-665-2472
Fax: 819-956-5740
E-mail: ncr.cgsb-ongc@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca

30. When is the first meeting of the committee?

The first meeting of the CGSB Committee on Organic Aquaculture will be convened in October by CGSB to discuss the draft standard and the comments received during the public review period.

31. How can I obtain copies of the minutes of the Standards Committee on Organic Aquaculture meetings or otherwise provide comments to Standards Committee members?

Minutes of the meetings can be obtained by contacting the Committee Secretary.

Members of specific interest groups that would like to provide comments should contact the Standards Committee member who best represents their interest. Should no Standards Committee members adequately represent their interest, readers may wish to contact the CGSB directly, by contacting:

Secretary, Committee on Organic Aquaculture
Canadian General Standards Board
Place du Portage III, 6B1
11 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Canada
K1A 1G6

Telephone: 819-956-0425
Toll-free: 1-800-665-2472
Fax: 819-956-5740
E-mail: ncr.cgsb-ongc@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca

32. Is there a link between the Standard on Organic Aquaculture and the Proposed Pacific Aquaculture Regulations?

There is no link between the Standard on Organic Aquaculture and the proposed Pacific Aquaculture Regulations.

Other FAQs

33. What is the role of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in the development of the National Standard for Organic Aquaculture?

In 2008, the Canadian Organic Aquatic Producers Association (COAP) approached DFO for financial assistance to develop a national organic standard. DFO agreed to fund the development of a national standard for organic aquaculture.

DFO also agreed to provide financial support for the development of a working draft standard using an experienced consultant.

In September 2009, CGSB entered into an agreement with DFO to develop a National Standard of Canada for Organic Aquaculture.

See: Fisheries and Oceans Canada.