Pangasius standards reach final stage
The Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue has reached the final public comment period before the draft standards for sustainable farming are completed, the World Wildlife Fund announced on Friday.
Standards will address key environmental and social impacts associated with farming pangasius. Production of the catfish-like species has rapidly increased to 1.1 million metric tons in just a few years. Impacts include water pollution, as well as poor fish health management and feeding practices.
Dialogue participants will use the feedback received during the 60-day public comment period to finalize 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.
“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 the WWF’s Dr. Flavio Corsin, who coordinates the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue. “I am confident that, because of the open and transparent process we use, the final standards will help transform the pangasius farming industry.”
Significant changes have been made to the standards as a result of input received from 140 people during the first public comment period, discussions at an August meeting in Vietnam, and meetings with small-scale pangasius farmers in Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Among the changes that have been made to the standards are prohibiting the conversion of natural resources for pangasius farming, banning all antibiotics listed by the World Health Organization 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, according to the WWF. 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 in 2011. 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.