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Sustainable Pangasius Aquaculture Enters Final Stage

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GLOBAL - The final step in the process of creating global standards for pangasius farming began last week, when the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue (PAD) kicked off the last public comment period for the draft standards.

The standards will address the key environmental and social impacts associated with pangasius farming, a fast growing industry whose production has doubled to 1.1 million tonnes in a few years. Impacts from the industry include water pollution, as well as poor fish health management and feeding practices.

Feedback received during the 60-day public comment period will be used by the PAD’s participants to finalise the standards in the first quarter of 2010. The process began in 2007 and includes more than 400 producers, conservationists, government officials, academics and others interested in pangasius farming.

Significant changes have been made to the PAD standards as a result of the input received from 140 people during the first public comment period, discussions at the PAD meeting held in Vietnam in August, and meetings with small-scale pangasius farmers in Vietnam and Bangladesh.

“We welcome feedback because we know that tapping into the experiences and expertise of a broad and diverse group of people will make the standards more robust,” said Dr Flavio Corsin of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who coordinates the PAD. “I am confident that, because of the open and transparent process we use, the final standards will help transform the pangasius farming industry.”

The process used by the PAD and the seven other Aquaculture Dialogues is the only one for aquaculture standard-setting that is in compliance with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance’s guidelines for creating environmental and social standards.

Among the changes that have been made to the pangasius standards as a result of input received are prohibiting the conversion of natural resources for pangasius farming, banning all antibiotics listed by the World Health Organisation as critical antibiotics for human health, and assessing the quality of receiving waters (not just what water comes into and goes out of the farm).

Most of the standards will be metrics-based, which is the only way to effectively know whether the industry’s impact on the environment is reduced. The standards also will be performance-based, thereby encouraging innovation at the farm level.

The PAD standards will be given to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to manage when that entity is in operation. WWF announced in January that it is going to help create the ASC, which will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards being created by participants of the Aquaculture Dialogues.

Further Reading

- You can view the draft standards by clicking here.