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Process of Creating Global Standards for Abalone Aquaculture Enters Final Stage

WASHINGTON, DC: The final step in the process of creating global standards for responsible abalone farming began today, when the Abalone Aquaculture Dialogue kicked off the last public comment period for the draft standards.

The standards will address the key negative environmental and social impacts associated with the abalone aquaculture industry, which is responsible for producing approximately 70 percent of the abalone eaten worldwide. Impacts include the transfer of diseases to other aquatic species, the destruction of habitat to create farms, and water pollution.

Feedback received during the 60-day public comment period will be used by the Dialogue’s Steering Committee to finalize the standards in the fourth quarter of 2010. The committee manages the standards development process, while World Wildlife Fund coordinates the Dialogue.

“Since the Dialogue began in 2008, one of our priorities has been encouraging input from as many people as possible who have expertise and on-the-ground experience related to abalone aquaculture,” said Steering Committee member Laura Rogers-Bennett of the University of California - Davis. “We will continue to do so through this comment period and are confident that the additional feedback we receive will help to strengthen the standards document and ensure that the standards will support environmentally sustainable abalone farming worldwide.”

The draft standards are based on the most current science related to abalone farming, as well as feedback from the 100 producers, academics, conservationists and others who attended the Dialogue and outreach meetings that were held in Thailand, South Africa and Australia.

This version of the standards document also reflects input provided during the first public comment period. Significant changes made as a result of that input include a more thorough explanation, with corresponding references, for the effluent standards and a new standard for monitoring freshwater use.

The standards will be the first global standards for abalone aquaculture created through an open, transparent process that is aligned with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance’s renowned guidelines for creating standards. The process encourages input from a broad and diverse group of people and ensures that their ideas will be considered by the full Dialogue.

The start of the final comment period for the draft abalone standards is a major milestone for the Aquaculture Dialogues, a set of eight roundtables working to create measurable and performance-based standards for responsible aquaculture. Four sets of draft standards (pangasius, abalone, shrimp and bivalves) are in the process of being reviewed and one set of standards (tilapia) is finalized. All of the standards are expected to be completed within approximately six months.

The Dialogue standards will be given to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to manage when that entity is in operation in 2011. The ASC will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards.  

To review the draft abalone standards and provide input, go to www.worldwildlife.org/abalonedialogue

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