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CFIA Updates Aquatic Animal Import Requirements

On September 22, 2015, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced through an update to the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) that additional information is required to import certain aquatic animals from the United States. In addition to the commodity details required under the National Aquatic Animal Health Program (NAAHP) which came in to enforcement on April 8, 2013, further additional data elements are now required to obtain Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) release.

Data Elements Required (As Of March 13, 2013):

  • Taxonomic (scientific) name or the Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN)
  • Accurate description of the product being imported - including eviscerated or other for finfish, fresh, chilled or frozen; excluding fillets
  • Full name of the exporter and importer
  • Quantity - including number of containers and weight
  • Country of Origin

New Data Elements Required (As Of September 22, 2015):

  • Cultured or wild species
  • Freshwater or marine origin species

Various Aquatic Species And Origins Defined:

  • Cultured aquatic animals - These are grown or made under controlled conditions and would be the products of fish farms.
  • Wild aquatic animals - These are wild caught fish, not grown in a fish farm.
  • Marine aquatic animals - These are from saline bodies of water such as seas and oceans.
  • Freshwater aquatic animals - These come from water with little to no salinity. For example, naturally occurring rivers and lakes; inland freshwater fish farms.
Canada Food Import Guide | How To Import Food Into Canada

Species Currently Affected By This Update:

  • Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  • Coho Salmon (Onocorhynchus kisutch)
  • Cobia (Rachyecntron canadum)
  • White perch ((Moronoe Americana)
  • Striped bass (Morone saxatilis)

Note: Although these are currently the only species requiring these additional data elements, it is highly recommended to include all details for all fish being imported as the CFIA can update their information requirements without notice which can result in border clearance delays.

Aquatic Animal Imports? Are Your Permits in Place?

Who Is Affected By This Update?

While this regulation applies to Canadian seafood importers of certain fin fish from the U.S. at this time, we foresee this expanding to other aquatic animal imports in the coming time.

Impact Of Non-Compliance On Your Shipments:

Shipments missing data elements required by CFIA will result in the hold up your goods and entries not getting processed in time.

What seafood importers can do:

Ensure all customs release documents include the data elements listed above to clear through both CFIA and CBSA without delay. Contacting us in advance of your shipment being cleared to provide us with the required information will keep delays at bay and allow for a smoother customs clearance process.

Getting Your Time-Sensitive Shipments To Market On Time:

As one of Canada's largest customs brokers for fish and seafood, Pacific Customs Brokers strives to clear your perishable products through customs without delay. When necessary, we will do our best to reach out and obtain the incomplete data required to avoid any hindrance to your imports. However, this does not guarantee that your shipment will not be delayed pending receipt of any missing information. To learn more on how this updated requirement impacts your business, please contact our Trade Compliance Team.

New Aquatic Animal Import Regulation Enforcement Begins April 8
questions about compliance regulations
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About Author
Gloria Terhaar
CCS, CTCS, CBSA Professional Designate

Gloria Terhaar has over 17 years of Canadian customs brokerage experience. She currently works in our Canadian division as a Trade Compliance Supervisor and Regulatory Compliance Specialist. Gloria has extensive experience in all aspects of documentation and regulatory requirements as they relate to importing products into Canada. Gloria is often called upon to train industry with some recent talks for MNP, the Surrey Board of Trade, TFO Canada and the BC Produce Marketing Association. In 2018, Gloria also participated in the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council advocacy event "Fall Harvest" in Ottawa where she participated in advocacy efforts for the Canadain produce industry.

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.