GOAL 2014: Small-scale producers play a big role


James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
October 9, 2014

A panel discussion at the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), the keynote speaker at the organization’s GOAL 2014 conference on Thursday in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, dealt with a huge issue: how to get small-scale producers engaged with sustainability efforts.

Peter Redmond, VP-market development for GAA’s Best Aquaculture Practices program, began the session recalling a comment Le Van Quang of Minh Phu Seafood Corp., one of Vietnam’s largest shrimp suppliers, made the day prior regarding the redundancy of the myriad certification programs that suppliers like Minh Phu have to deal with.

“We’re certifying farms that were already certified three or four times over,” Redmond said. “The much harder work is getting the small groups together. Herein lies the future of how we grow volumes of certified product.” This “pinch point” of engaging small-scale fisheries, as Redmond put it, was illustrated by Jeff Sedacca, president of National Fish and Seafood, based in the United States.

“For us to certify large farms over and over, while 60 to 80 percent of the production is not certified … we’re not moving forward,” he said. “The real question is how do we get to reach these [small] farmers and convince them to be part of these programs and improve their practices.”

Anton Immink, global aquaculture director for Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), said small-scale producers are a “big part of the sector [but they feel] disenfranchised from the opportunity to demonstrate and measure their efforts.”

Sedacca suggested creating clusters of small-scale farmers and giving them a point of contact to bring them to an internationally accepted standard.

“That sounds like an [Aquaculture Improvement Project] to me,” he said.

Redmond summed up the discussion by saying that certifying bodies like GAA need to “start moving down the chain and figuring out how to give small-scale producers market access.”

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