Letter: WWF ‘extremely’ committed to aquaculture
Editor’s note: The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Jose Villalon, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund aquaculture program.
“The Pangasius Lie” a TV program that recently aired in Germany, has sparked much controversy around World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) commitment to the aquaculture industry, which needs to be clarified. The confusion was intensified through Mike Urch’s recent article titled “WWF’s Hatchet Job on Pangasius” where he heavily quotes Herby Neubacher, an industry consultant based in Vietnam saying in the TV program WWF “does not have the slightest bit interest in making anything better but blame a fish, the consumer, the industry.”
The reality is WWF is extremely committed to minimizing the negative environmental and social impacts associated with pangasius farming and has spent the past three years working side by side with Vietnamese pangasius farmers, scientists, government officials and others to develop standards that will reduce the footprint of this industry. Since the standards have been completed, farmers are proactively changing their farming practices so their fish will be certified. As a result, Anova, Birds Eye Igloo and other retailers have agreed to source their pangasius from this region, which could lead to increased revenues for the local farmers.
The global standards are the product of the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue (PAD), a roundtable coordinated by WWF and run in accordance with the guidelines for standard setting developed by the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance. More than 600 people participated in the Dialogue from 2007 until the final standards were published in August 2010. The 103 standards, which are measurable and performance-based, are geared toward minimizing the main environmental and social impacts associated with pangasius farming. Among the issues highlighted in the “The Pangasius Lie” were water pollution, feed utilization and unfair wages for farm workers.
WWF is aware of and has seen some of the harmful farming practices in Vietnam. There are always good/responsible performers and bad performers in any industry. We also have noticed a major change in the industry over the past few years — farmers and retailers who are more dedicated than ever to raising and selling responsibly-produced pangasius, something WWF is very proud to be a part of.
WWF aquaculture program