WWF Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue Releases Draft Standards
The World Wildlife Fund's Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue yesterday released the first draft of its tilapia-farming standards.
Public comments on the draft standards will be accepted through February 2009. There will be two two-month comment periods, after which Dialogue participants will take one month to review the comments before updating the standards. The final standards are expected to be released in March 2009.
The performance-based standards are designed to minimize the key environmental and social impacts of tilapia farming, such as pollution, habitat destruction and fair labor wages, by measuring the extent of each.
"When finalized, these will be the world's most robust standards for the tilapia aquaculture industry," says Jose Villalon, director of the WWF-U.S. aquaculture program. "They also will be the most credible standards, as they will be the outcome of three years of open discussions and consensus building among leaders in the tilapia-farming industry."
Participating in the Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue are Regal Springs Trading Co., Rain Forest Aquaculture, Aquamar, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the New England Aquarium, among others.
"It is heartening that a diverse group can come together to work toward a goal of developing a standard to better the industry," says Michael Tlusty, Ph.D., director of research at the New England Aquarium's Edgerton Research Laboratory. "This was a learning process and everyone came out with a better understanding and more respect of global tilapia production."
The final standards will be handed to an organization that will facilitate independent third-party certifiers to audit tilapia farms worldwide.
The Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue is one of six WWF-initiated Dialogues underway globally. Standards also are being developed for salmon, pangasius, shrimp, abalone and mollusks.