Five Belize shrimp farms have been awarded Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification.
The Belize Shrimp Grower Association members have achieved certification against the global science-based ASC Shrimp Standard as responsible and well-managed farms.
Member of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association, Alvin Henderson, describes Belize as a country of rich biodiversity with a stretch of mangrove belt along the coast that acts as a natural filtration system.
“The journey towards ASC certification has helped to highlight areas of our operations where we can make meaningful change with minimal financial resources. Sometimes all that is really required is a change of perspective,” Henderson explains. “We’re using less water on our farm through improving the way we manage water quality. And, by focusing on compliance, we uncovered that the water in the receiving body is of even better quality since our mangrove buffer acts as a biofilter.”
A responsible future for Belize shrimp aquaculture
“We want to continue with the process of improving our farms. Meeting the ASC standard has ensured an objective assessment of our farms and the marine environment through independent evaluation,” Henderson said.
Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, said: “I congratulate the Belize Shrimp Growers Association members on their ASC certification, they should be very proud of their achievement.
“These farms have undergone a transparent, open and demanding assessment process – and through that have proven their responsible practices. The improvements they have made will make a difference for the future environmental sustainability of the region and to a community ethos of social responsibility.”
Sea Farms Ltd brings Belizean shrimp to the European market, Dominique Gautier, Technical Executive, Sea Farms, said: “This achievement is the demonstration that members of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association share a common foundation of core social, environmental and ethical values. ASC certification will help in developing a positive image of Belize as a trusted provenance in the marketplace and will open new commercial opportunities for Belizean shrimp.”
Support for responsible aquaculture
The farms worked with WWF Mesoamerican Reef program officer for aquaculture, Mauricio Mejia, to develop better management practices and reduce their environmental impacts.
“The dedication and collaboration of the shrimp farmers both in improving their farm processes and meeting the social and community aspects of the standard have made a big difference,” Mejia said.
“WWF calls upon other shrimp-producing countries in Latin America to take action and help their shrimp farmers achieve ASC certification.”
The Belize Shrimp Growers Association was provided with funding from the Compete Caribbean Program to audit the individual farms and prepare for ASC certification. Moreover, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) has supported the farmers with funds and technical assistance, such as training and research. The Compete Caribbean Program supports private sector development and competitiveness in 15 Caribbean countries, and is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government of Canada and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). IDH, an accelerator of sustainable market transformation, also supports farmers with access to lucrative international markets.
“Our farmers are very grateful for the invaluable contribution this funding and support has provided in assisting Belize’s shrimp industry in achieving ASC certification,” Henderson said. “While a few of our farms would have moved towards certification anyway, the support we received has accelerated the process of change in Belize.”
Measurably reducing adverse impacts
Following an independent assessment conducted by the conformity assessment body, Control Union, shrimp sourced from these farms is now eligible to carry the ASC logo.
Through ASC certification shrimp farms aim to measurably reduce adverse impacts on the environment and local community by preserving wetlands and mangroves; addressing the transfer of viruses and reducing disease; bringing cleaner water and ensuring the responsible use of water; ensuring the responsible use of feed; and addressing biodiversity issues.
For more information on the Belize Shrimp Growers Association visit: www.belizeshrimpgrowers.org