Working together to drive improvements in aquaculture
Today at Seafood Expo Global the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) shared a stage with WWF, the Vietnamese shrimp processor Quoc Viet, and trader Anova Seafood to demonstrate how working together brings significant improvement in shrimp aquaculture practices.
At its update meeting, ASC hosted a discussion about the ASC programme, its progress and the role of supply chain partners in aquaculture improvement projects, with the example of WWF Vietnam’s work in supporting small scale shrimp producers in improving their operations to achieve ASC certification.
Taking part in the panel were Ngo Tien Chuong, Programme Coordinator – Aquaculture, WWF Vietnam; Ngo Quoc Tuan, Vice President, Quoc Viet; and Rens Elderkamp, Senior Sourcing/Account Manager – Frozen, Anova Seafood. The session was facilitated by Daan de Wit of IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative). IDH is working in partnership with WWF Vietnam to support the small scale farmers.
Elies Arps, Senior Advisor Sustainable Markets WWF Netherlands, provided an overview of the shrimp improvement project, explaining how around 70 per cent of the shrimp production in Vietnam comes from small scale producers. Vietnam is the third biggest exporter of farmed shrimp globally. Around 90 per cent of its total volume is exported. This makes farmed shrimp a key species which generates export value.
Quoc Viet works with the small holders in the WWF Vietnam project. “It is important to Quoc Viet to ensure its shrimp is responsibly produced.” said Ngo Quoc Tuan. “By working with WWF Vietnam and the small holders towards ASC certification we will be able to assure our customers that their product has come from a trusted and reliable source.”
Rens Elderkamp also explained how sustainable sourcing is at the heart of Anova Seafood. “Aquaculture is the future,” he said. “We need to be able to meet the future demand for seafood but it must be done responsibly – we don’t see this as a choice.”
Ngo Tien Chuong of WWF Vietnam highlighted the importance of support programmes in areas where small scale farmers have little to invest to make the necessary changes to improve their operations and meet the environmental and social requirements in the ASC standard.
“Through this project we can help farmers improve their operations and capacity, and when they have met the ASC standards they are proving that they have measurably reduced any adverse impacts on the environment and local communities,” said Chuong.
“The farms are rewarded when they are linked to companies in the market that value ASC certification.”
“The work of WWF Vietnam is an example of how cooperation with and amongst seafood industry businesses can lead to improvements in aquaculture practices including small scale producers,” said Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO. “Due to concerns about environmental and social issues connected with shrimp farming, there is a growing market for responsibly produced and certified shrimp. To meet this demand it is important that the industry manages its practices responsibly.
“The market demand for farmed shrimp is globally strong, but growth has tapered or declined in the historically key ‘traditional’ markets of the US, Japan and Europe. With the growing affluence of middle class families in emerging market and middle income countries demand has remained strong. It will become increasingly important to engage these markets to promote sustainable shrimp production globally.
“It is predicted that aquaculture will provide close to two thirds of global food fish consumption by 2030. So clearly aquaculture has the capacity to meet this demand. But, it is important for the future growth of the sector to get it right to reduce environmental and social impacts.
“We now have 73 certified farms in our programme and 1,053 ASC certified and labelled products in the market, this is a great start for a young programme and clearly signals the interest of the market for responsibly farmed seafood. We certainly expect more farms to engage and make the necessary improvements needed to demonstrate that their production meets this growing demand for responsibly farmed seafood.”
ASC Shrimp Standard
Shrimp farms have been able to enter ASC assessment since the shrimp standard and audit manual were finalised in March 2014. Certifiers were trained on the standard in December last year.
The shrimp standard is the seventh ASC standard introduced, following farmed tilapia, pangasius, bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops), abalone, freshwater trout and salmon.
Other support is also available to help shrimp farms improve their operations. IDH established a Farmers in Transition (FIT) fund to encourage and support the production of responsibly farmed shrimp. The programme partners with retail, food service and supply chain companies to support producers in improving their farming practice and actively engages governments, industry and other stakeholders in the countries of production.
Shrimp farmers who would like to achieve ASC certification can apply for FIT co-funding from IDH.