The Global Aquaculture Alliance commends the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for enacting a policy fortifying the value of voluntary third-party certification schemes like the Best Aquaculture Practices.

The policy enables CFIA to use the outcome of a third-party audit on an aquaculture facility or other food facility to guide its risk-based inspection activities, recognizing voluntary third-party certification schemes as a resource in ensuring public safety.

BAP is the world’s most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program, with standards encompassing environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare and traceability. The scheme incorporates the entire aquaculture production chain, from processing plants and feed mills to hatcheries and feed mills. The BAP seafood processing plant standards are benchmarked against the latest Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) food-safety requirements.

At the end of January 2016, 1,103 processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills were BAP-certified, up from 701 at the end of 2014.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also considered recognizing third-party certification schemes as a resource in ensuring public safety, and for years GAA has worked with the agency on the concept of food safety being a shared responsibility between the public and private sectors.

A 2000 meeting between GAA and FDA concerning Salmonella contamination of shrimp led to a food-safety component for GAA’s Codes of Practice for Responsible Shrimp Farming. A 2001 FDA-GAA collaboration studied Salmonella incidence in 100 shrimp farms in six countries. Then in 2003, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan expressed interest in exploring a program for enhanced seafood import safety that would initially focus on farmed shrimp, though the initiative was tabled. By 2008, GAA had submitted an application to participate in an FDA pilot program on third-party certification of farmed shrimp.