Aquatic Animal Imports | Are Your Permits In Place?

Aquatic Animal Imports | Are Your Permits In Place?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has made changes to aquatic animal imports. This includes finfish, crustaceans and molluscs when they are included in the list of species considered susceptible to aquatic animal diseases.

Import Permit Enforcement Stages:

Import permit enforcement is happening in 3 stages with the first 2 already accomplished. The third and final stage is the one which will have the most impact on commercial importers.

1st stage - December 10, 2012 imports for; aquaculture, bait, public aquarium, manufacturing of feed for aquatic animals, stocking and religious uses

2nd stage - February 4, 2013 imports for; commercial or personal aquariums, feeding aquatic animals, testing, holding units, research and educational uses

3rd and final stage - April 8, 2013 imports for; food service, retail use, further processing for human consumption and Canadian goods returning to Canada.

Exemptions To Import Requirements For Aquatic Animals:

Exemptions to the regulations may apply, some of these are:

  • Eviscerated (gutted)
  • Already processed, including eviscerated and flash frozen, dried, smoked, salted, brined, pickled, deep fried, etc.
  • Individually packaged products for sale to the consumer, and
  • Ready to eat products sold directly to the consumer

Use of these last two exemptions must be applied with caution; the final decision rests with the CFIA and will depend on the risk assessment of individual products. Risk assessments must be done prior to the import of your product or you will need an import permit.

How To Import Into Canada


At time of import the invoice description is going to play a very prominent role in determination of when an import permit is required. Your customs broker will need the species name and TSN (Taxonomic Serial Number) to first determine if the product being imported is a susceptible species. Once that has been determined, then a very detailed description of how the produce is prepared, if at all, will be needed to satisfy the information requirements. Industry accepted terms like ready-to-eat, shell on, dressed, etc., will not be sufficient for the CFIA or your broker to determine the import requirements at time of import entry.

For more information check the CFIA website or contact your local CFIA Program Specialist.

Considerations When Importing Produce Into Canada

Atlantic Area

Lisa Myers -Atlantic Veterinarian - Animal Health Program Specialist Meat Hygiene Animal Health Programs - Atlantic Telephone: (506) 851-4743 Fax: (506) 851-2801 Internet: Federal Building Floor 5th floor 1081 MAIN STREET PO BOX 6088 MONCTON NB E1C 8R2 Canada

Quebec Area

Dr Hélène Soucy -  Quebec Program Specialist - Aquatic Animal Health Terrestrial Animal Health Division - Quebec Area Telephone: (514) 283-3815 (4309) Fax: (514) 283-6214 Internet: Room 671-S 2001 UNIVERSITY ST MONTREAL QC H3A 3N2 Canada

Western Area

Dr Gary Kruger, DVM - Western Canada Veterinary Program Specialist Animal Health Programs - Western Telephone: (403) 292-5825 Fax: (403) 292-6629 Internet: 1115 57 AVENUE NORTH EAST CALGARY AB T2E 9B2 Canada

Ontario Area

Edward H. Creighton D.V.M. ?Ontario Area Program Specialist, Aquatic Animal Health (AAH) Program Canadian Food Inspection Agency 174 Stone Road West Guelph, Ontario N1G 4S9 Tel #: 519-826-2854 Fax #: 519-837-9770

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About the Author
Carol Brown

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.