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Shrimp farming sustainability initiative launched

A new initiative that aims to improve the performance of global shrimp aquaculture production has been launched at Seafood Expo North America today.

Called the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP), members are committed to achieving and promoting the highest quality products, produced to the highest social and environmental standards, through greater collaboration and transparency.

The initiative has seven founder members, all from Ecuador, but is seeking to expand its membership internationally. In order to achieve its ambitions, the SSP requires that all members are Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified; use zero antibiotics; are fully traceable; and have minimal environmental impact – measured through an assessment of water quality.

Up until this point the shrimp sector has been a commodity market, and quality has often taken a back seat to prices,” commented José Antonio Camposano, Executive President, National Chamber of Aquaculture from Ecuador. “But there are consumers who want more choice. Consumers who care about what they eat, and how it has been produced, and it is time they were offered a choice of farmed shrimp that meets the highest standards and is fully traceable to its origins. Shrimp grown by producers who care, for consumers who care.”

Using the ASC standard as a benchmark for its sustainability performance, SSP members have added three additional indicators which will support greater market differentiation. Ultimately offering consumers the ability to make more informed choices on the products they purchase.

Speaking at the SSP announcement, Dr Michael Gilmore, Director Harvard Infectious Disease Institute, and Principle Investigator of the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance added: “This level of industry commitment in removing antibiotics from food production is a highly significant step in preserving the utility of drugs we have and reducing the likely spread of resistance. This is the direction we need to see all food sectors taking.”

In addition to improving industry standards, the SSP is also looking to drive industry-wide improvements through the following activities:

Establishing a sustainability leadership roundtable – with the intention of influencing the future of shrimp aquaculture, the SSP will be working in collaboration with other companies, stakeholders, and NGOs to support and implement industry-wide improvements

Leading an industry scale-up programme – committed to supporting more farms achieve SSP, the SSP with the support of its advisory board – the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and ASC – will be working with small and mid-sized farms to help improve their practices to SSP levels

Driving consumer awareness – with the aim of creating product differentiation, SSP will be looking to increase consumer awareness of, and reward, the preferential environmental and social practices of SSP members.

“The SSP has set ambitious targets,” said Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Markets and Food, WWF. “Achieving ASC and ensuring full traceability will be no easy feat, but their recognition for what is necessary in today’s changing food market landscape sets them apart from many and will have impacts on the whole seafood sector.”

Rob Fletcher

Rob Fletcher

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