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Updated: 22 hours 37 min ago

Auditor general's hard-hitting report details grizzly bear population mismanagement by successive B.C. governments

Tue, 2017/10/24 - 1:07pm

David Suzuki Foundation and University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre welcome recommendations to overhaul grizzly bear management in B.C.

VICTORIA -- The David Suzuki Foundation and the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre welcome today's report by the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia on the provincial government's management of grizzly bears.

"The auditor general's assessment is a scathing indictment of the poor management of grizzly bears by successive B.C. governments, going back decades," said David Suzuki Foundation Ontario and Northern Canada director-general Faisal Moola. "The report found the province continues to lack a clear management plan for the species and has made no progress whatsoever in initiating recovery planning for endangered grizzly populations, such as in the North Cascades, South Selkirks and the Squamish-Lillooet region."

In 2014, the two organizations filed a petition asking B.C. auditor general Carol Bellringer to initiate an independent review of the B.C. government's policies and procedures for managing grizzly bears, out of concern that the species was being mismanaged.

A century ago, 35,000 grizzly bears lived in B.C., while others flourished from Alaska to Mexico to Manitoba. Today, only 15,000 grizzly bears inhabit B.C., having disappeared from the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and around Fort St. John. An additional nine grizzly bear populations are on the verge of elimination, and in some cases, only a handful of bears remain, such as in the North Cascades east of Vancouver. Approximately 250 to 300 grizzlies are hunted in B.C. annually in a controversial trophy hunt that the current B.C. government has vowed to reform.

"Bear experts have long known that if we want to keep grizzlies on the landscape, we must protect their habitat and ensure that humans do not needlessly kill them," said Calvin Sandborne, director of the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre. "The B.C government needs to adopt a precautionary approach to managing grizzly bear populations. The good news is that in places such as the continental U.S., habitat protection, strict access management and a ban on trophy hunting have led to a dramatic recovery of grizzly populations in places where only a few decades ago they had been written off."

The auditor general report makes 10 recommendations, including that the government:

  • Create and implement a province-wide grizzly bear management plan
  • Develop and resource a science-based inventory of grizzly bear populations in the province
  • Initiate recovery planning for specific populations in rapid decline
  • Significantly reform the way in which grizzly bear hunting happens in the province

The latter recommendation is of particular importance given research by bear biologists at the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University on the widespread and pervasive overkilling of grizzly bears by humans in a number of hunted populations in the province.

"We are pleased with the B.C. government's decision to accept all 10 recommendations in the auditor general's report," Moola said. "We remain concerned, however, by the province's plan to continue allowing grizzly bear hunting across B.C. as a regulated 'food hunt'. Such a policy has a built-in loophole that allows recreational hunters to kill grizzlies as long as they surrender the animal's head, pelt, claws, teeth and other 'trophy' items to a government official, or remove the meat from the carcass and pack it out. That needs to change."

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For more information, please contact:

Faisal Moola, David Suzuki Foundation: 647-993-5788 | fmoola@davidsuzuki.org Calvin Sandborne, University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre: 250-721-8188 | csandbor@uvic.ca

A copy of the auditor general's report can be downloaded at: http://www.bcauditor.com/sites/default/files/publications/reports/FINALGrizzlyBear_Management.pdf

Federal government's orca symposium failed to establish concrete action on recovery measures, say seven conservation groups Time is running out to fend off extinction

Thu, 2017/10/12 - 2:22pm

Vancouver, BC -- The federal government's southern resident killer whale Symposium, held as part of the Oceans Protection Plan this week in Vancouver, failed to identify concrete actions to ensure the recovery of the endangered killer whales, according to seven environmental organizations.

"Threats to southern residents are well-documented and to support recovery we need to be implementing tangible measures immediately," says Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director of Georgia Strait Alliance. "We were encouraged that the federal government spoke of having to make difficult decisions; however, we did not hear any specific steps or measures that will be taken in the short term. Now is the time for the federal government to show strong leadership to protect critical habitat because orcas can't wait."

The southern resident killer whale population has had two deaths this year, seven in 2016, and calves have not been born since 2015. Today, there are 76 remaining, a very small population that is inherently vulnerable to the risk of extinction. This population of whales relies on B.C.'s southern coastal waters from May to October.

The three main threats to southern resident killer whales are a lack of their preferred prey (Chinook salmon), noise and disturbance from vessels, and toxic contaminants. For recovery to be effective, efforts must focus on enacting measures that reduce these three major threats in their critical habitat.

Chinook salmon are themselves threatened and some of this year's southern resident whale deaths are linked to starvation. "We were hoping the government would be closing Chinook fisheries and creating whale refuges to avoid further whale starvation. The situation is urgent," says Jeffery Young, Senior Science and Policy Analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation.

"Analysis on this population shows these whales are unlikely to recover under existing conditions of prey availability, noise and disturbance," says Misty MacDuffee, Wild Salmon Program Director at Raincoast Conservation Foundation. "Any further reductions in the quality of their critical habitat only hastens their slide to extinction. Our population viability analysis shows that reducing existing vessel noise and increasing Chinook availability increases their likelihood of long term survival."

"The underwater noise levels in the Salish Sea are alarming and already an impediment to the recovery of southern resident killer whales. We need assurance that new projects that expand shipping will further not increase noise levels," says Michael Jasny, the Director of Natural Resource Defense Council's Marine Mammal Protection Project.

Leading scientists have called on the government to adopt a minimum target for the reduction of shipping noise by three decibels (dB) within 10 years and 10 dB within 30 years relative to current levels, recognizing that a greater reduction target may be appropriate for the Salish Sea and in the critical habitat of SRKW.

"The commercial shipping industry is taking steps to improve the situation for southern resident killer whales through the ECHO program of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority," says David Miller, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada. "WWF-Canada urges the federal government to build on these efforts by setting a noise reduction target and supporting the implementation of practical measures by the industry to reduce underwater noise exposure and create conditions for the recovery of southern residents."

Approaches to the simultaneous management of these threats include the protection of critical habitat and key foraging areas and the strengthening of regulations. "We need to create networks of protected areas that act as refuges in key foraging areas for whales, where they have access to plenty of food, and safe, quiet spaces, free from harmful human activities," says Sabine Jessen, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society National Oceans Program Director. Work has already begun on the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area, which could protect an important part of their critical habitat.

"We can step up protection for endangered whales by strengthening the laws that safeguard marine wildlife and their habitat--including the Oceans Act, which is currently subject to proposed amendments. A stronger, more robust Oceans Act, combined with a network of marine protected areas, will help ensure the survival of the southern residents and other at-risk whales," says Linda Nowlan, Staff Counsel at West Coast Environmental Law Association.

Another long overdue measure is to implement Habitat Protection Orders and finalize Marine Mammal Regulations that set minimum approach distances (such as 200m) and other regulations that restrict boat numbers and times for viewing endangered killer whales.

We look forward to continued dialogue with domestic and international partners to achieve the following recovery actions:

Urgent actions that require strong government leadership to support recovery for Southern Resident killer whales:

  1. Increase Salish Sea Chinook abundance by closing (non-terminal) interception Chinook fisheries.
  2. Create whale refuges that restrict commercial and recreational boat access in key feeding grounds in the Juan de Fuca and Gulf Islands.
  3. Reduce existing levels of vessel noise by setting underwater noise reduction targets and supporting the shipping industry to implement practical measures to reduce noise emissions.
  4. Use Habitat Protection Orders to regulate noise and disturbance from private and commercial boats watching whales.
  5. Create specific targets to reduce the use and discharge of polluting, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals to the marine environment.
  6. Advance the establishment of marine protected areas, and complete the proposed National Marine Conservation Area in the Southern Strait of Georgia.

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CONTACTS Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director, Georgia Strait Alliance
E christianne@georgiastrait.org
T 604 -862-7579

Sabine Jessen, National Ocean Program Director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
E sabine@cpawsbc.org
T 604-657-2813

Jeffery Young, Senior Science and Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation
E jyoung@davidsuzuki.org

Michael Jasny, Director of Marine Mammal Protection Project, Natural Resources Defense Council
E mjasny@nrdc.org
T 310-560-5536

Misty MacDuffee, Wild Salmon Program Director, Raincoast Conservation Foundation
E misty@raincoast.org
T 250-818-2136

Linda Nowlan, Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association
E lnowlan@wcel.org
T 778-875-5333

Catharine Tunnacliffe, Oceans Communications Specialist, WWF-Canada
E ctunnacliffe@wwfcanada.org
T 647-624-5279

Environment minister's commitment to consider changes to Canada's toxics law is on the right track

Tue, 2017/10/10 - 1:38pm

Environmental and health groups urge Ottawa to act quickly to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Ottawa, Ont. -- Environment and health groups agree with the federal environment minister that changes are needed to modernize and improve the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), the federal law for regulating pollution and toxic substances.

In June 2017, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development concluded a 16-month review of CEPA by making 87 recommendations to strengthen the law. Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna responded in a letter to the Committee's chair on Friday, indicating that the government is committed to examine potential amendments to CEPA and improve the implementation of the law.

"This is a good next step towards updating Canada's cornerstone environmental law, so that it's consistent with emerging science and actions taken by other countries," said Muhannad Malas, Toxics Program Manager with Environmental Defence. "But words must turn into action. Any delay in fixing our toxics law will mean more preventable deaths, illnesses, and pollution."

CEPA regulates the release of pollution and the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products -- a main source of Canadians' daily exposure to toxics. Exposures to chemicals such as BPA and flame retardants have been linked to many chronic health conditions including cancer, infertility, and behavioural problems in children. These effects are estimated to cost the Canadian economy tens of billions of dollars in health care costs every year.

"The world has changed since CEPA was last updated in 1999 and toxic chemicals are more and more prevalent in the products we use every day," said Elaine MacDonald, Director of Healthy Communities with Ecojustice. "People's health is at risk from daily exposure to harmful chemicals like BPA from receipts and parabens from shampoos and cosmetics."

In its current state, the Act is ill-equipped to address the impacts that low doses of toxic chemicals, like endocrine disruptors, have on human health. CEPA also weakly protects vulnerable populations, like babies and pregnant women, who are more susceptible to the harms caused by toxics. While environmental rights are increasingly recognized internationally, no federal law explicitly protects Canadians' right to live in a healthy, non-toxic environment.

"The majority of Canadians believe the nation's toxics laws do not adequately protect them, and over 90 per cent believe that they have the right to a healthy, non-toxic environment," said Peter Wood, National Campaign Manager, Environmental Rights with the David Suzuki Foundation. "Canada must join the nearly 150 countries that recognize in law the right to a healthy environment."

The Standing Committee's recommendations for strengthening CEPA received wide public and stakeholder support, especially in regards to a set of 11 recommendations to improve the regulation of toxic substances.

"Acting on the recommendations made by the Standing Committee would prevent disease and curb environmental pollution," said Kim Perrotta, Executive Director with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). "Canada has to reverse the onus of proving safety for substances of greatest concern onto industry, address toxics that can harm health at extremely low doses, and truly protect the most sensitive members of society."

"Reforming CEPA goes hand-in-hand with the federal government's agenda to improve Canada's environmental laws that were gutted in the past few years," said Annie Bérubé, Director of Government Relations with Équiterre. "CEPA is almost two decades old and has largely failed to protect us from the effects of toxics. It would make no sense to let this golden opportunity pass."

The groups urge the government to introduce amendments to strengthen CEPA within the next six months.

This is a joint release from Environmental Defence, Ecojustice, David Suzuki Foundation, Équiterre, and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

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For more information or interview requests, please contact:
Sarah Jamal, Environmental Defence, sjamal@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9521 ext. 251 (work), 905-921-7786 (cell)

Avery Zingel, Ecojustice, azingel@ecojustice.ca, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 528 (work)

Alan Worsley, David Suzuki Foundation, aWorsley@davidsuzuki.org, 604-732-4228 ext. 1211 (work), 604-600-5341 (cell)

Kim Perrotta, CAPE, kim@cape.ca, 905-320-8710 (cell)

MEDIA STATEMENT: The plight of boreal caribou in Canada

Tue, 2017/10/10 - 7:26am

This week, the fifth anniversary of the 2012 Recovery Strategy for boreal caribou came and went including a key deadline that was missed by jurisdictions for range plans and laws to protect boreal caribou critical habitat [1]. The provinces and territories have had five years to protect boreal caribou critical habitat and failed. Destruction of habitat continues throughout the country.

That this is happening in Canada is shocking. This failure is a black mark on Canada's national and international reputation as a leader for stewarding its natural heritage and wilderness.

Let there be no doubt that the science is strong and being reinforced with new evidence. Habitat loss and alteration driven by widespread industrial activity is a high-level threat for boreal caribou; increases in habitat disturbance result in a greater likelihood of population decline and extirpation of caribou.

The continued erosion of boreal caribou critical habitat impoverishes us all. It will have significant impacts on many Indigenous Peoples' rights, cultures and traditional livelihoods. It risks tarnishing Canada's reputation in the global marketplace, as U.S. and international purchasers buy Canadian products based on the understanding that Canada will protect its wildlife and honour its commitments to Indigenous Peoples.

The path forward is clear. Canada has a global responsibility to stem the tide of its wildlife loss.

Protecting the critical habitat of threatened boreal caribou is also consistent with Canada's international commitment to protect 17 per cent of its lands and inland waters by 2020.

Protecting Canada's caribou critical habitat is an important means of ensuring we have a healthy boreal forest for our children and grandchildren. And as the boreal forest region is one of the world's most important carbon storehouses, keeping large tracts intact is also part of smart, science-based climate change strategy.

Therefore, we all come together on behalf of concerned Canadians and Americans to demand that:

- All responsible provincial and territorial governments immediately stop the expansion of the industrial footprint in boreal caribou ranges that have exceeded 35 per cent disturbance, and take immediate steps to protect critical habitat. We expect provinces and territories to do this in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and with their consent

- The federal Environment and Climate Change Minister release a section 63 report confirming that boreal caribou critical habitat in Canada remains largely unprotected, identifying the steps that will be taken to protect critical habitat.

- Following this report and consideration of whether the actions to protect critical habitat have been taken, the Minister should then fulfill her duties under section 61(4) of SARA, by consulting with the provinces and territories, and then by recommending to cabinet a protection order for portions of critical habitat in jurisdictions where the laws of the province or territory do not effectively protect boreal caribou critical habitat. This is colloquially known as the 'safety net' order.

Signed,

- Alberta Wilderness Association
- Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
- David Suzuki Foundation
- Greenpeace
- Ontario Nature
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Nature Canada
- Wildlands League
- Wilderness Committee

[1] Boreal caribou critical habitat is identified for all boreal caribou ranges in the 2012 federal recovery strategy except for one range in northern Saskatchewan.

For more information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser | David Suzuki Foundation | 604 356 8829 | bglauser@davidsuzuki.org

Canadian provinces, territories miss crucial deadline for caribou protection

Fri, 2017/10/06 - 8:03am

National and international stakeholders call for immediate interim action given this failure to act

Yesterday, Canadian provinces failed to meet a key deadline for protecting threatened boreal caribou habitat. Provinces had five years to develop habitat protection plans under Canada's Species At Risk Act, and no plan has been published at the time of this release.

In response, a broad array of stakeholders including an Indigenous voice, a conservation biologist, a former northern Ontario MP and caribou biologist, and national and international environmental groups called today for immediate interim steps to ensure the boreal caribou's long-term survival.

"The failure of the provinces to publicly release effective, science-based range plans for caribou is a black eye for Canada," said Rachel Plotkin, Ontario Science Projects Manager for the David Suzuki Foundation. "Immediate leadership is needed by the federal and provincial governments to reverse caribou decline by maintaining and restoring the habitat that caribou need to survive."

"Enough of the continued failures by governments," said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador. "We demand that they abide by the principles of UNDRIP calling for the participation of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples always had a close and sacred relationship with the caribou. Any strategy related to conservation of the species will definitely have to include our Peoples and their traditional knowledge, and governments will have to respond appropriately."

"More than 80 per cent of boreal caribou habitat in British Columbia is in Fort Nelson First Nation's territory. Fort Nelson First Nation has a strong interest in helping to restore caribou populations," said Katherine Capot-Blanc, Acting Lands Director of the Fort Nelson First Nation Lands Department. "Since 2011 we have repeatedly attempted to engage with government about our concerns with the boreal caribou population but have not received any substantive response. Our approach is to be proactive and work with government, but government has not been receptive. That's why we have taken the step to create our own action plan."

"As a former MP in northern Ontario and caribou biologist, I have observed the false dichotomy about 'caribou vs. jobs'," said Bruce Hyer, former MP for Thunder Bay, business-person and caribou biologist. "I am disappointed that the federal and provincial governments are not showing sufficient leadership on caribou conservation. I know that we can have both prosperity and caribou conservation in the province through science-based policies achieved through honest collaboration and compromise."

"The decline of woodland caribou is a long and disturbing diminuendo, largely unheard," said Dr. Jim Schaefer, Professor of Biology at Trent University. "But the science is loud and clear: If we conserve boreal forest habitat, we can conserve this animal."

Anthony Swift, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Canada Project, remarked on the international impacts of Canada's inaction: "Canada is tarnishing its reputation for sustainable forest products by failing to protect caribou habitat. Now that the provinces have failed to act, Prime Minister Trudeau must now step up to protect one of the world's last great forests, and with it, some of North America's most iconic animals and the way of life of hundreds of Indigenous Peoples' communities."

Canada's federal Recovery Strategy for boreal caribou, released in 2012, identified that only 14 out of Canada's 51 boreal caribou herds were considered self-sustaining at that time. Without intervention, wildlife scientists predict the population will decline even further in the next 15 years, losing up to 30 per cent more of the population.

The wide array of voices calling for action today further underscores the immediate need for Canada's federal and provincial leaders to take swift steps to protect this iconic species.

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For more information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation | 604 356 8829 | bglauser@davidsuzuki.org

New children's safety campaign says keep Bloor bike lane

Thu, 2017/10/05 - 2:50pm

Nearly 70 per cent want cycle track to remain

TORONTO -- Cycle Toronto and the David Suzuki Foundation today launched "Keeping our children safe", a major campaign to protect kids' safety by retaining bicycle lanes along Bloor Street.

The initiative includes placing large advertisements in subway stations with the heading, "7 in 10 Toronto residents say keep the Bloor bike lanes... including us!" The ads show a young family whose children are posing with their bicycles and helmets.

The campaign also features a "Students for Bloor" bike ride and a door-to-door canvass to collect signatures on a pro-bike lane petition.
It represents the largest undertaking so far to build support for the Bloor bike lane.

"We have two key messages," says Cycle Toronto executive director Jared Kolb. "Bike lanes keep our kids safe and the vast majority of Torontonians support the Bloor bike lane."

The Bloor lane is only a pilot project. City council will decide this fall whether to make it permanent or remove it. Recent polling from the Angus Reid Forum found 69 per cent of Toronto residents want the Bloor lane to remain in place.

"Right across the city there's majority support for keeping the Bloor bike lane," says Gideon Forman of the David Suzuki Foundation. "And it's not just downtown. Even in North York, support for the Bloor lane is at 69 per cent."

The Bloor lane has received support from many groups, including local businesses, Olympic athletes and physicians. Doctors point to substantial research suggesting protected bike lanes reduce road injuries and enhance public safety.

A December 2016 paper in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that bike-network expansion is associated with a decrease in cyclists' crashes, fatalities and severe injuries.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jared Kolb, Executive Director, Cycle Toronto 416-729-9023
Gideon Forman, Transportation Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation 647-703-5957

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Global study finds neonic contamination in three-quarters of honey samples, reinforces need to ban bee-killing insecticides

Thu, 2017/10/05 - 9:54am

"The detection of bee-killing neonics in honey samples from every region of the world demonstrates yet again the alarming extent of environmental contamination caused by the mass use of neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics)," said Faisal Moola, director general with the David Suzuki Foundation. "As the authors of this eye-opening scientific study point out, honeybees are 'sentinels of environmental quality', meaning residues of pesticides in honey indicate environmental contamination where the bees forage. While the concentrations of neonics detected are below the levels regulatory authorities consider safe for human consumption, bees remain vulnerable. Constant exposure to these toxic pesticides, alongside other stressors, threatens our pollinators and food security."

"These latest research findings reinforce the need for Canada to phase out all neonics without delay to prevent further environmental contamination."

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Note to editors:

A study published today in the leading scientific journal Science detected neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) in three-quarters of the honey samples gathered from all regions of world, including Canada.

Neonics threaten a large number of beneficial species and are implicated in the global decline of pollinators. Neonics are toxic to honeybees even at low levels. Evidence of harm includes effects on bees' immune system, reproductive patterns and feeding behaviours. Foraging bees take contaminated nectar and pollen back to the hive, exposing the whole colony. The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides' 2017 update to its Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Effects of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, released last month in Ottawa, highlighted new evidence of harm.

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency initiated a re-evaluation of risks to pollinators from three neonics in 2012. The Agency said it will publish preliminary risk assessments and propose regulatory action, if warranted, in December.

For more information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation | 604-356-8829 | bglauser@davidsuzuki.org

To reduce emissions, action needed on Canada's climate plan

Tue, 2017/10/03 - 10:38am

OTTAWA -- The federal government must prioritize climate action immediately in the wake of the environment commissioner's audit today.

"Although the federal government has developed a comprehensive plan, we need to make sure these aren't just words on a piece of paper. They need to turn into responsible action," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "The federal government has the chance to pass laws and regulations, but the window to show leadership is now."

"The development of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change marked a major milestone," Bruce said. "We agree with the commissioner's assessment that the government must now shift into action mode and follow through on these promises to reduce our emissions."

To meet Canada's 2030 emissions reduction targets, the federal government must:
• Pass the regulations to fully phase out coal power and ramp up clean, renewable electricity
• Implement a zero-emission vehicle standard to drive innovation and availability of electric cars
• Use federal authority to set a national price on carbon pollution
• Regulate responsible action to eliminate methane pollution from the oil and gas industry
• Require approval of Canada's new energy infrastructure to be conditional that it supports, not opposes, Canada's goal to be emissions-free by 2050

"It's concerning that the federal government has not prepared our communities to withstand the impacts of climate change and extreme weather," Bruce said. "Climate change is more than just an environmental issue. This is an economic and security issue that affects people everywhere, from the biggest cities to the smallest towns. It's too urgent to ignore. This is the federal government's moment to turn Canada's climate plan into climate action."

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Media contact:
Emily Fister, Climate and Clean Energy Communications Specialist
604-440-5470

Lisa Gue, Senior Science and Policy Advisor, attended the briefing by the Environment Commissioner in Ottawa
Contact: 613-914-0747

DNA testing reveals limited seafood fraud by Canadian retailers But poor labelling still an issue

Mon, 2017/10/02 - 10:36am

Halifax, Vancouver -- A countrywide SeaChoice research project found seafood fraud in Canada is minimal, but on-package seafood labels generally lack critical information that would allow consumers to make informed purchases.

In spring 2017, SeaChoice partnered with the University of Guelph Centre for Biodiversity Genomics' Life Scanner program to engage 300 volunteer "citizen scientists" across Canada. Each was provided with two DNA ID kits to sample seafood in their local grocery stores. The results are now public on the LifeScanner website.

The results show that just one per cent of the seafood tested across Canada was not what the label said it was, and seven per cent of tested seafood was mislabelled where fish were sold under a name that was not compliant with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's labelling regulations. In contrast, a 2008 study of North American retailers and restaurants found 25 per cent substitution or mislabelling.

"Over the past decade, most Canadian retailers have adopted sustainable seafood policies that have likely contributed to improvements in the accuracy of seafood labels," says Colleen Turlo, SeaChoice representative from the Ecology Action Centre. "The good news is that retailer efforts appear to have significantly reduced actual fraud. That said, more work needs to be done as there is still seafood being sold with noncompliant and generic common names."

Canada only requires seafood labels to display the species' common name. However, having additional information about seafood allows buyers to make decisions with more confidence, whether they're choosing food for its environmental sustainability, social responsibility, health reasons, supporting local fishers and fish farmers or simply wanting to know exactly what's in a package.

"The demand to participate was overwhelming," says Scott Wallace, SeaChoice steering committee member from David Suzuki Foundation. "We had more than 900 requests for our DNA ID kits. This demonstrates that consumers are concerned about their seafood and where it comes from." A recent Eco-Analytics survey of 3,000 Canadians found over 80 per cent agreed, "All seafood sold in Canada should be labelled with information identifying the species, where it was caught, and how it was caught."

SeaChoice's study results show wide variations in the information available on seafood labels from retailer to retailer, and species to species. Of the near 500 samples processed:

  • Five per cent included the species scientific name,
  • 16 per cent included the country of harvest,
  • 58 per cent included whether the seafood was wild-caught or farmed,
  • 4.5 per cent of labels contained information about the gear type used or farming method.

Other countries want better labelling too. "We know that other countries have moved to require more information on seafood products, to improve transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain and regain the trust of consumers," says Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from the Living Oceans Society. "Based on our results, less than two per cent of Canadian labels would meet international best practices for seafood labelling."

SeaChoice is in the process of sharing results with Canadian retailers, and providing them voluntary best practice guidelines for seafood labelling. SeaChoice and its member organizations will continue to engage with the federal government in support of improved seafood labelling legislation and integration of seafood labelling as part of a national food policy.

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Media contact:
Sarah Foster, SeaChoice National Coordinator

Phone: 604-916-9398
Email: info@seachoice.org