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Gold Standard Launched to Raise International Aquaculture Standards

WASHINGTON - The aquaculture industry is growing and now produces approximately 40 per cent of the seafood consumed around the world each year.


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"By adopting the Gold Standard, new or existing ecolabels can ensure that aquaculture production does not come at the cost of environmental degradation, social inequity, or harm to future generations."
Kathryn Mengerink, director of ELI's Ocean Program

This 'Blue Revolution' has increased seafood availability, but has also caused serious environmental and social impacts, including but not limited to pollution, destruction of habitat, damage to native ecosystems, and harm to human health, according to the Environmental Law Institute.

The institute says that these impacts must be reduced to ensure the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the industry.

Ecolabels will play an important role in reducing the impacts of aquaculture production and processing.

Ecolabels - voluntary systems that certify and label products that meet standards for environmental and social performance - have already begun to be developed for aquaculture products, and additional ecolabel development is likely in the near future, the institute says.

A report released by the Environmental Law Institute (http://www.eli.org/) (ELI) and The Ocean Foundation (http://www.oceanfdn.org/), Gold Standard for Sustainable Aquaculture Ecolabel Design, establishes a definitive standard for the institutional design of sustainable aquaculture ecolabels.

The Gold Standard's institutional framework is credible and practical, and compliant ecolabels will produce sustainable aquaculture practices on the ground.

The Gold Standard addresses weaknesses in existing ecolabeling programs, including lack of credibility, uncertain performance, and reliance on current practices to determine standards.

By contrast, Gold Standard-compliant ecolabels rely on the best available science and state of the art institutional design to create and implement certification standards that ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainability.

"By adopting the Gold Standard, new or existing ecolabels can ensure that aquaculture production does not come at the cost of environmental degradation, social inequity, or harm to future generations," said Kathryn Mengerink, director of ELI's Ocean Program.

ELI will present the Gold Standard during an forthcoming workshop hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to develop international standards for the design of aquaculture certification systems.

"The Gold Standard will be influential in the upcoming negotiations and will strengthen our efforts to develop sustainable aquaculture ecolabels," said Mark J. Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation.

This report was produced by the Environmental Law Institute with funding and guidance from the Munson Foundation, the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, The Ocean Foundation and an anonymous foundation.

The report is available free of charge from ELI's website, at http://www.elistore.org/reports_detail.asp?ID=11297&topic=Oceans. Read Porter can be contaqcted at +1 (202) 939-3810 or porter@eli.org.

Ellen Hardy

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