Thanks to funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), the Belize Shrimp Growers' Association is preparing member farms for Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) assessment. The IDB funding is through Compete Caribbean, a program to support private sector development and competitiveness in 15 Caribbean countries.
The Belize Shrimp Growers Association expects eight farms, representing 89 per cent of shrimp farms and more than 95 per cent of total farmed shrimp production in Belize, to enter assessment against the ASC Shrimp Standard later this year. Independent, third-party pre-assessment against the ASC standard for a number of the shrimp farms was carried out by the certification body SCS Global Services.
Support from World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
The Belize Shrimp Growers Association has been working with Mauricio Mejia, WWF Mesoamerican Reef program officer for aquaculture, to help the farm develop better management practices and reduce their environmental impact.
"Since 2007 the farms have been reducing their environmental impacts. There is still more to be done but they are on their way to be ready to enter assessment against the ASC standard," said Mauricio.
"For me the certification of eight shrimp farms means the sustainability of the Mesoamerican reef – it will be a massive achievement and an example for other countries and industry."
Gaining a competitive edge
Alvin Henderson, secretary of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association, said:
"As a group we have shared values and by working together we can drive our strategy forward and have a better story to tell in the long term.
"ASC certification will be the seal of approval for us, our focus is on quality and making sure we grow responsibly as a group, at the same time it will provide access to wider markets and help to secure solid relationships with buyers."
A measurable difference
Through ASC certification shrimp farms aim to measurably reduce adverse impacts on the environment and local communities by preserving wetlands and mangroves; addressing the transfer of viruses and reducing disease; bringing cleaner water and ensuring the sustainable use of water; ensuring the responsible use of feed; and addressing biodiversity issues.
The ASC standards were developed through a multi-stakeholder process over many years. As an independent certification programme ASC works with third party Certification Bodies, it is these independent certifiers who carry out the farm assessments and take the certification decision. ASC cannot influence this process.
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is as an independent, not-for-profit organisation founded by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) in 2010 to manage the certification of responsible fish farming across the globe.
The ASC standards require farm performance to be measured against both environmental and social requirements. Certification is through an independent third party process and (draft) reports are uploaded to the public ASC website.
The on-pack ASC logo guarantees to consumers that the fish they purchase has been farmed with minimal impacts on the environment and on society.
The ASC standard addresses the following seven principles:
- Legal compliance (obeying the law, the legal right to be there)
- Preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity
- Preservation of the water resources and water quality
- Preservation of the diversity of species and wild populations (for example, minimising escapes that could become a threat to wild fish)
- Monitored and responsible use of animal feed and other resources
- Animal health (no unnecessary use of antibiotics and chemicals)
- Social responsibility (for example, no child labour, health and safety of employees, freedom of assembly, community relations).
For more information about ASC, please visit www.asc-aqua.org.
SCS Media ContactLinda Brown | Senior Vice President
SCS Global Services To find out more, contact Linda Brown, or call 510.452.8010.