By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on Friday, August 28, 2015
National Fish & Seafood, Gloucester, Mass., a division of Pacific Andes, aims to grow its supply of certified 4-star shrimp and increase fishmeal production, with company projects now underway in India, Thailand and Vietnam designed to improve production there.
National Fish is piloting a Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) program, working to get several small shrimp farms around the world Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)-certified. “Currently, farms must register and undergo an audit individually, which is both costly and time-consuming. As a result, a large share of the world’s shrimp farms, of which some 80 percent is estimated to be smallholder farms, have been unintentionally marginalized by the rapid growth in the preference for certified seafood by the U.S. and EU marketplace,” James Baros, aquaculture and sustainability manager for National Fish & Seafood, told SeafoodSource.
Assistance for smaller shrimp farmers is needed since many retailers around the world now require third-party certification for all imported, farm-raised seafood, Baros said. “The U.S. marketplace increasingly will only buy certified product due to ethical sourcing requirements that have been put into place by most of the countries’ retailers. We have seen these steps being taken due to concerns that aquaculture producers overseas were not held to environmental or social regulations such as what exists in the developed world and as a result, were sometimes carrying on with poor practices contributing to environmental degradation.”
The BAP small farm group program allows farms to be certified as one entity under the BAP multi-species farm standard, reducing their costs significantly. National Fish & Seafood’s pilot project includes training seminars, farm visitations, auditing courses, gap analyses, staff training, materials and equipment. “We are funding our staff’s travel costs in addition to allocating our employees time to work on these projects. We are also directly funding the audit and certification fees for all of our small farm group pilots,” Baros said.
National Fish’s pilot program includes six small farm groups in Vietnam, Thailand and India. In Vietnam, for example, the company is working with Minh Phu to improve and certify a group of 1,150 farmers who are raising all-natural shrimp at very low densities in the mangrove forests of Ca Mau. “This sustainable form of aquaculture has allowed for the conservation of the vulnerable mangroves by providing inhabitants with incentives to protect the ecosystem,” Baros said.
In addition, the company is working to increase is certified fishmeal supply. “We are in discussion with feed companies in India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, to help them achieve BAP certification and to supply our growing network of certified farms,” Baros said.
National Fish is also collaborating with several farmer owners/entrepreneurs to establish micro-feedmills. “We will supply these mills with certified fishmeal from Peru or Chile and sardine fishmeal from a WWF-led FIP on India’s west coast,” Baros said. “By working directly with feed mills, both small and large, and continuing our efforts to certify more farms, we are greatly increasing our offerings of 4-star BAP shrimp. “