WWF Tilapia Certification Standards Near Completion
February 29, 2008 - The World Wildlife Fund's Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue, which met on Wednesday after the International Boston Seafood Show, is expected to release draft certification standards in about two months, said Jose Villalon, director of the WWF's U.S. aquaculture program.
Tilapia will be the first of the WWF's Aquaculture Dialogues, which comprise seven species or groups of species - tilapia, pangasius, catfish, salmon, trout, shrimp and mollusks - to release draft certification standards. A public-comment period will immediately follow, and the final standards are slated to be released by November.
The standards are designed to minimize the six to eight main environmental and social impacts of tilapia farming so that the industry can grow in a sustainable manner. There will be a total of about 25 standards for each species, which is "very manageable," said Villalon, a 26-year veteran of the aquaculture industry. It's a transparent, multi-stakeholder process, he added.
The WWF is facilitating the Aquaculture Dialogues and will not act as the certifier once the standards are finalized. The Food Marketing Institute's Safe Quality Food program has agreed to adopt the standards. Numerous aquaculture certification standards have been or are being developed.
"The market will dictate which ones are credible and which ones aren't credible," said Villalon.
"Tilapia farmers are more open than ever [to certification]," added Jack Morales, director of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership's aquaculture program and a member of the steering committee for both the Tilapia and Pangasius Dialogues. "They really need to consider this if they want the industry to be sustainable."