Newfoundland fish inspection disorganized, ineffective

Of the 3,575 inspections recorded in 2010 in Newfoundland (that’s in Canada), 42 per cent of them were situations in which inspectors travelled to a processing facility or landing site, but no inspection was done because there was no fish there.

Provincial auditor John Noseworthy noted, “Given that 42 per cent of the inspections were situations where there was no fish to inspect, they probably might want to go back and revisit that, and determine if that’s the best way to go about it. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of plan."

Noseworthy also found enforcement officers did more inspections of cod than they did for shrimp, despite the fact that harvesters land five times more shrimp every year than they do cod.

Another major gap in the system is at Port aux Basques, from where 90 per cent of the province’s exported seafood leaves.

Inspections there were only done seven hours per day, five days per week; of the 437 inspections conducted between January and November 2010 none were recorded in the provincial database.

The government responded the province’s fishery is "intense and erratic," which makes it difficult to do the sort of planning Noseworthy is calling for.

Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman pointed out that all the province’s shrimp is landed in such a short period of time that it’s tough to carry out a lot of inspections.
Because the season for cod is much longer, more inspections are done.

Derek Butler, executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers, said Noseworthy’s report "reflect lack of a complete understanding of the industry."
Instead of more inspections and better scheduling, Butler said there should be less inspection.

He said meaningful quality control is done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as well as European Union and American quality certification.