New Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard

The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) has published a new National Standard of Canada CAN/CGSB-32.312-2012, Organic Aquaculture Standards. The document was sponsored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to provide voluntary requirements for the development of organic seafood products. The standard drew heavily upon the two existing CGSB organic agriculture standards.

The standard describes the principles and management standards of organic aquaculture and provides lists of substances that are permitted for use in organic aquaculture.

Organic aquaculture production is based on principles that support healthy practices. These principles aim to increase the quality and the durability of the environment through specific management and production methods. They also focus on ensuring the humane treatment of animals.

The general principles of organic aquaculture production include the following:

  1. Protect the environment, minimize benthic degradation and erosion and water quality degradation, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.
  2. Maintain long-term biological stability by optimizing conditions for biological diversity.
  3. Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.
  4. Provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioral needs of aquaculture animals.
  5. Prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production.

Neither this standard nor organic products in accordance with this standard represent specific claims about the health, safety and nutrition of such organic products.

Under a system of organic aquaculture production, aquaculture animals are provided with living conditions and space allowances appropriate to their behavioral requirements, and organically produced feed. These practices strive to minimize stress, promote good health and prevent disease.

Organic practices and this standard cannot assure that organic products are entirely free of residues of substances prohibited by this standard and of other contaminants, since exposure to such compounds from the atmosphere, soil, ground water and other sources may be beyond the control of the operator. The practices permitted by this standard are designed to assure the least possible residues at the lowest possible levels.

The new standard was developed by a technical committee comprised of industry members, consumer advocates, regulators and environmental organizations. The draft standard went through two extensive public reviews before being published.