Harmonizing sustainability standards
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
23 October, 2012
Harmonizing the many global sustainability standards will be a focus of seafood traders attending the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL conference in Bangkok, Thailand on 30 October to 2 November.
Jeff Sedacca, president of shrimp and aquaculture at National Fish and Seafood in Gloucester, Mass., who sits on GOAL’s Market Panel, believes that is a major challenge facing international buyers and sellers of seafood.
“We would like to see a benchmark in harmonization. We are in 30 different countries and having accounts in different countries asking for different certifications from the same supplier becomes unwieldy,” Sedacca said.
Another major issue that will be discussed is shrimp farms’ adoption of GAA’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) standards.
“When I meet with shrimp farmers in Vietnam, India, and Thailand, I explain that the BAP certification of their shrimp is no longer a value-added component; it is going to be the standard,” Sedacca said.
More foodservice and retail buyers are putting “teeth” in their sustainability standards for farmed seafood, Sedacca said. As a result, “those who are not BAP-certified will get less money and will be shut out of a significant market they have enjoyed in previous years,” Sedacca said.
Another issue up for discussion at GOAL will be the working conditions at shrimp peeling houses in Thailand. Recent reports suggest that there are numerous human rights violations — such as underage workers and excessively long hours — at shrimp factories’ contracted peeling houses, according to Sedacca. At GOAL, seafood industry leaders will discuss how to extend sustainability certification from peeling houses to their outside contracting firms.
While Sedacca and other National Fish executives have not seen evidence of worker mistreatment their peeling houses or contract firms, the company is taking steps to combat the problem. “All National Fish and Seafood shrimp specifications for product grown and processed in Thailand will have an additional requirement that no shrimp produced for NFS may be handled at outside peeling houses,” Sedacca said.
23 October, 2012