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Abalone Aquaculture Dialogue Begins

Outcome will be environmental and social standards for sustainable abalone farming

WASHINGTON, DC: The process of creating standards for certifying farmed abalone is underway. The standards will help minimize the key environmental and social impacts associated with abalone production.

At the first meeting of the Abalone Aquaculture Dialogue, held in Australia in April, participants identified the key impacts associated with abalone farming and agreed on overarching goals (a.k.a. principles) to address those impacts. The impacts discussed relate to biosecurity, genetics and the ecosystem effects of abalone aquaculture. 

Dialogue participants also made significant progress in categorizing criteria, which are specific areas to focus on in order to reduce the impacts of abalone farming.  For example, participants identified disease, broodstock/seed procurement, and the translocation of exotics as key criteria in addressing biosecurity issues.  For a summary of these and other issues discussed at the meeting, go to www.worldwildlife.org/abalonedialgoue

The standards will be based on the impacts, principles and criteria, as well as indicators that will be developed at the Dialogue meetings in South Africa and Thailand within the next year.

“We recognize that environmental sustainability is critical to future rural growth and prosperity through aquaculture,” said Dr. Ann Fleming of the Australian Abalone Growers Association. “The outcomes of this Dialogue meeting will be built on in future Dialogues in other countries. Australian farmers look forward to continuing to work with WWF to improve on their existing environmental credentials and gain global recognition for their lead role and dedication to protecting the environment.”

The standards will be effective because they will be measurable, based on the newest science related to abalone aquaculture, and developed with input from a diverse group of abalone industry stakeholders, including producers, academics, retailers, NGOs and government officials.

Approximately 70 percent of the abalone consumed globally is produced on farms. Farming of abalone began in the late 1950s in Japan and China. More than 80 percent of farmed abalone is grown in China. The remaining production comes from South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, Australia, Chile and the United States.

This is one of six Dialogues coordinated by World Wildlife Fund to develop standards for certifying aquaculture products. Other Dialogues underway are for salmon, shrimp, tilapia, bi-valve shellfish and pangasius. For more information about the Dialogues, go to www.worldwildlife.org/aquadialogues

“Although abalone are a type of mollusc, the biological requirements and cultivation techniques used to grow the species differ significantly from filter-feeding bivalve shellfish,” said Jose Villalon, director of the WWF-US aquaculture program. “We have initiated an abalone-specific Dialogue to address the unique challenges posed by this type of aquaculture.  As with all of the Aquaculture Dialogues, we will be working with industry leaders, NGOs and other stakeholders to create voluntary science-based standards that will encourage innovation and lead to increased sustainability.”

If you are interested in participating in the Dialogue, please contact Colin Brannen at colin.brannen@wwfus.org or (202) 778-9534.