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Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue Meeting Set for March in Vietnam

Criteria and Indicators Will Top the Agenda

WASHINGTON, DC: Developing criteria and indicators that will be the framework for pangasius aquaculture standards will be the focal point of the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue meeting in Can Tho City, Vietnam March 27-28.

Meeting participants also will review existing research related to pangasius aquaculture and identify research gaps that need to be addressed to create credible, measurable standards. To ensure that the Dialogue process is transparent and consensus oriented, participants will finalize the strategy for developing standards, including how to engage stakeholders and incorporate their feedback into the standards.

“We are pleased the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue is moving quickly,” said Jose Villalon, director of World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. Aquaculture Program.  “This will help ensure that the rapid growth of the pangasius industry is good for the environment, society and the economy.”

The standards will minimize or eliminate the eight main environmental and social issues related to the farming of tra and basa – the two key pangasius species. The issues, such as water pollution and health management, were identified by participants at the first Dialogue meeting, held in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2007. The criteria for pangasius farming will provide direction on how to address each of those issues. The indicators will identify how to measure the extent of each issue.

Draft criteria and indicators developed by the Dialogue Steering Committee since the first Dialogue meeting was held will be presented for consideration at the March meeting. The Steering Committee includes representatives from Anova Food, Butler’s Choice, BirdsEye/Iglo, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and 12 other entities. Pangasius producers, processors, exporters, retailers, input suppliers, government officials, academics, NGO representatives and others are expected to attend the March meeting.

Most pangasius is produced in Vietnam and then sold in more than 80 countries, mainly in the form of white filets. In 1997, the value of pangasius exported from Vietnam was $20 million; in 10 years it climbed to $1 billion. European Union countries dominate the export market with a share of almost 50 percent.

“Anova is very dedicated to seeing the growth in the pangasius industry happen in a sustainable way, without harming other aquatic activities or the environment,” said Anova Director Willem Huisman. “The pangasius Dialogue is on the right track to do this and the second Dialogue meeting will bring the development of standards along even further, which Anova fully supports.”

The pangasius Dialogue is one of five WWF-initiated Dialogues underway globally. Standards also are being developed for salmon, tilapia, shrimp and molluscs. Dialogues for seaweed, trout and abalone will begin later this year. Standards created by the Dialogues will be given to a new or existing standards setting organization that will use independent third-party certification bodies to audit the farms.

If you would like to attend the next pangasius meeting, contact Dr. Flavio Corsin by March 15th at flavio.corsin@wwfgreatermekong.org. For more information about the pangasius Dialogue (including a summary of the first meeting), and all of the WWF Dialogues, go to www.worldwildlife.org/aquadialogues

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 For more than 45 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The largest multinational conservation organization in the world, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level, from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature. Go to worldwildlife.org to learn more.