ASC certified GODACO farm, in Vietnam, opened its doors to fish buyers this week to demonstrate how environmentally and socially responsible pangasius is produced.
The EU co-funded ‘Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Vietnam (SUPA)’ project’s partners: World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC), along with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), joined together to host a tour of the farm and processing facility followed by a Pangasius Forum discussion during the Vietfish Fair in Ho Chi Minh City.
First hand experience of responsible production
“The success of the event really came from giving people first hand experience of how a responsibly run farm and processing facility operate,” said Ngo Tien Chuong, Programme Coordinator – Aquaculture, WWF Vietnam. “The ASC has the most robust fish farming criteria so the buyers could see how the farmers really care for the environment, for example, with water filtration systems, ensuring the conservation of the local wildlife, investing in their staff and working with the local community.
“There is a commitment by pangasius farmers in Vietnam to ensure that they are farming responsibly and those farms that meet the strict criteria of the ASC standards are recognised for their good practices.”
Hearing about the sector’s efforts and experiences
The Pangasius Forum was well attended by fish buyers and producers. During the session attendees heard from Esther Luiten, ASC’s Commercial Marketing Manager, who talked about the image of pangasius and how ASC certification helps enhance that image and brings credibility to the product in the market place.
“Pangasius is a popular product in many European markets, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands. These markets are competitive and have high sustainability requirements. However, pangasius is still confronted with a negative image, for example, in Germany,” said Luiten.
“Many Vietnamese pangasius producers have worked hard to improve their operations in response to criticism and have achieved ASC certification. We have heard from importing traders and producers that by gaining ASC certification they have retained business in Germany and, for some, orders have increased despite the challenges that the pangasius sector is facing.
“ASC certification gives consumers the positive reassurance they need that their pangasius purchase comes from a farm that is socially and environmentally responsible. ASC certification is not the golden bullet for improving the image and quality perception of the product, but it certainly does help.”
There are now 44 ASC certified pangasius farms and with ASC certification they have greater access to the European market.
At the forum session, producers and buyers got the opportunity to meet in person and time to properly discuss and understand the sector’s efforts to invest and improve the quality of the product as well as consumer and retail requirements.
Many ASC certified pangasius farms are exhibiting at Vietfish over the next few days. Vietfish is one of the leading seafood shows in the world and the greatest in ASEAN.
Global standard for responsible pangasius farming
The ASC Pangasius Standard was developed by a diverse stakeholder group, and carries the most robust global requirements for pangasius farming.
Companies that wish to sell their products as ASC certified are required to gain ASC chain of custody certification by passing a third party audit conducted by an independent certification body.
The on-pack ASC logo ensures that certified farms receive the market recognition they deserve. The logo helps consumers make an informed choice when shopping for seafood. Products carrying the logo reassure customers that the fish is sourced from a farm that minimises its environmental and social impact.