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Draft Standards for Responsible Pangasius Aquaculture Completed

First Public Comment Period Begins

WASHINGTON, DC: Draft standards for responsible pangasius farming, created by the 250-plus participants of the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue (PAD), were posted for public comment today.

Feedback received during the 60-day comment period will be used by the PAD’s technical working groups, as well as the Process Facilitation Group that manages the PAD, to revise the standards. The global standards will address the key environmental and social issues related to pangasius farming, one of the fastest growing types of aquaculture in the world. Pangasius production increased from 400,000 tons in 2005 to 1.1 million tons in 2008.

“To get to this point, we’ve used the best science and input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including pangasius producers from Vietnam and Bangladesh, buyers, local and international environmental groups, and scientists,” said technical working group coordinator Nicolas Privet of Anova Food. “But we want and need input from as many people as possible to create standards that will protect the environment and benefit society.”

The draft standards were developed through a transparent, consensus-based process that began when the PAD was created in September 2007. It is similar to the process used by the Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue, which is in the midst of revising tilapia standards to incorporate feedback received during the first of its two public comment periods. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) coordinates these and six other aquaculture Dialogues.

“There are other pangasius standards in the marketplace but we believe that the open and consensus-oriented approach used in this Dialogue will make the PAD standards more effective,” said PAD Coordinator Flavio Corsin, who works for WWF in Vietnam, where most pangasius is produced. “The public comment period, which we take very seriously, is one of the mechanisms we will use to keep the process open.”

During the public comment period, Corsin and others involved with the PAD also will be keeping the process as open as possible by proactively reaching out to small-scale aquaculture producers, fishermen and agriculture farmers in Vietnam and Bangladesh to get their input on the standards.

The PAD operates in accordance with the world’s most reputable guidelines for developing environmental and social standards, which were created by the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance.

Corsin said the PAD standards also will be the most credible standards for farmers to adopt because they will be metrics-based, which is the best way to determine if environmental and social issues related to pangasius farming – such as water pollution, the destruction of sensitive habitat and unfair labor practices –  are being addressed.

The standards are expected to be finalized in the fall, after the completion of two 60-day public comment periods. The draft standards will be revised, as needed, after each public comment period so as to incorporate feedback received.

The PAD standards will be given to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to manage when that entity is in operation. WWF announced in January that it is going to help create the ASC, which will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards being created by participants of the Aquaculture Dialogues. 

To read and comment on the PAD standards, go to www.worldwildlife.org/pangasiusdialogue.