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Feedback on Draft Standards for Tilapia Aquaculture to be Focus of December Dialogue Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC: Feedback on draft standards for tilapia aquaculture that is received during the first public comment period for the standards will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue. The meeting will be December 15-16 at the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) US headquarters in Washington, DC.

More than 20 people have submitted input on the standards since they were posted for public comment September 29th. This feedback will be used to revise the standards prior to the second and final public comment period that will begin December 29th. The standards will be finalized in March. This six-month review process is in accordance with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance’s Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards.

“The feedback we’ve gotten so far is very constructive and valuable,” said Dr. Aaron McNevin, who coordinates the Dialogue for WWF. “This is a clear indication that people are eager to have a credible set of standards for tilapia farming.” 

The draft standards were developed over a three-year period by tilapia producers, seafood buyers, nonprofit organizations, and other tilapia aquaculture stakeholders involved in the Dialogue. The Dialogue is driven by a Steering Committee that includes representatives from Regal Springs Trading Company, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, New England Aquarium, Aquamar, Rain Forest Aquaculture and WWF.

“With all the energy being invested by the seafood industry, NGOs and academics into so-called sustainability movements, such as certification,  now is the time for us to voice our opinions, concerns, disagreements and ideas,” said Regal Springs President Mike Picchietti, who is a member of the Dialogue’s steering committee. “It’s the old story -- if you don't vote and if you don't become engaged, you lose credibility to complain down the road if these standards impact your business, philosophy or careers." 

The standards will help minimize the impact tilapia farming has on the environment and society. They will be the first set of measurable, performance-based tilapia aquaculture standards created through a transparent and multi-stakeholder process.

When finalized, the standards will be given to a standards-holding entity that will use independent third-party certification bodies to audit farms. Third party involvement ensures fair and effective management of the standards. WWF is working with its partners to assess which standards-holding entity – new or existing – to use.

To read and comment on the tilapia standards, go to http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/globalmarkets/aquaculture/tilapiacommentform.html

For more information about the December meeting, contact Dr. Aaron McNevin at Aaron.McNevin@wwfus.org