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Feedback on Draft Standards for Pangasius Aquaculture to be Focus of August Dialogue Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC: Feedback on draft global standards for pangasius aquaculture that was received during the first public comment period for the standards will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue, to be held August 5-6 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The goal of the meeting will be to review the issues raised during the first public comment period, discuss options for addressing these issues and reach general agreement on a revised set of draft standards. The amended standards will be posted for a second 60-day public comment period within a few months after the meeting and are expected to be finalized by the end of 2009.

During the first public comment period, which ended last week, 140 people and organizations submitted input. Numerous small-scale pangasius producers also have been engaged in the process as a result of several Dialogue-related initiatives. For example, a team of conservationists, academics and others immersed themselves in AnGiang and Dong Thap provinces to hear directly from producers and local communities about how to ensure the standards can help them address the challenges they are facing related to pangasius farming. A similar project was recently completed in Bangladesh.

“I appreciate the fact that I was given the opportunity to express my views about the draft standards,” said Vo Van Kich, a Vietnamese pangasius farmer who participates in the Dialogues. “That’s one of the best things about the Dialogue. Everybody’s voice is heard. It’s the best way to make sure we will be able to adopt the final standards.”

Approximately 360 people have been involved in developing the draft standards, which will be metrics- and performance-based, since the Dialogue began in September 2007. Seven technical working groups (TWGs) took the lead in this and then presented their recommendations to the full Dialogue. The same TWGs will be responsible for revising the standards before the next public comment period begins.

The standards will address the key environmental and social issues related to the farming of tra (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) and basa (Pangasius bocourti), such as water pollution, feed and health management. They are being created through a transparent and open process that is in line with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance’s Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards.

“Because our process is so open, we are getting a lot of input that will help make the final standards the most credible and effective standards on the market for pangasius farming,” said Senior Aquaculture Advisor Flavio Corsin of WWF-Vietnam, who coordinates the Dialogue. “The need for this is critical, as the demand for pangasius around the world is growing very quickly.”

When finalized, the standards will be given to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards.

If you would like to attend the August meeting, register by July 31, 2009 by sending a message to pangasiusdialogue@gmail.com