I wish I could present you guys with a silver bullet that's an easy fix to this issue, but unfortunately, as Lesley has alluded, it is a very complex issue. What further complicates things is that Canada is lagging behind comparable jurisdictions. There are fewer regulatory requirements governing traceability here in Canada, for now. No single agency is wholly in charge of combatting seafood fraud. It's regulated through multiple government departments at federal and provincial levels, with a patchwork of legislation and regulatory provisions. Then to further complicate things, provinces and municipalities may play a role.
However, there are other jurisdictions around the world that are doing something to tackle seafood fraud. For instance, in the European Union they're really leading the way on combatting seafood fraud and they have robust proof-of-legality and traceability requirements to deter fraud and to prevent the entry of illegally caught seafood into their markets. Right now, if you're in the EU and you buy a seafood product, as a buyer you're going to know from the label on the product the commercial and scientific name, the production method, the geographical area where the fish was caught or farmed, the fishing gear that was used, whether the product is fresh, frozen or previously frozen, the best-before date and any information on potential allergens.
We found that these regulations in the EU are working. Before they were in place, we were finding fraud levels of 23% in the EU. Then in 2015, after the regulations were put into place, we found levels of about 7%, so it is effective.
A few years ago, the United States created a task force to combat fraud and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, or IUU. This was the seafood import monitoring program, or SIMP. This has looked at the species that are at greatest risk for fraud. It required traceability from boat or farm to the U.S. border. This is something that is going to be rolled out to other species within the United States. They just started with the most high-risk ones.
Some of our recommendations for what could be done to combat this issue are, first, to create a multi-department task force in Canada to ensure that all the relevant departments work together to strategize on how to detect and prevent seafood fraud. This would be supported by full-chain traceability requirements.
Second is to require and share catch documentation to identify the origin and legality of seafood for all domestic and imported seafood, in line with what is currently required by the EU, and recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Canada agreed to this at the G7 summit.
Our next recommendation is to strengthen the existing safe food for Canadians regulations, so that they require full-chain traceability. Currently, they require one step forward and one step back. When the time comes for review, we would like to see that be more fulsome and go throughout the full system, and also require that the regulatory bodies report this information electronically.
Fourth is to improve seafood labelling standards. We heard what the EU can find out about their food. We'd like to be able to find that out here as well. We've seen that work; it can work again, so that essential information about the fish is travelling with the fish.
Finally, we'd recommend the use of DNA testing for imported and domestic species authentification in CFIA's inspection program, and more investment in that department, so they can do this.
All that to say, we're really looking forward to your questions. We are looking forward to hearing Lyzette's presentation, and to working with CFIA, and to working with other departments because we do want to find a solution to this problem.