WASHINGTON, DC: Nominations are due by April 30th for the Technical Working Groups (TWG) that will draft criteria, indicators and measurable standards for certifying sustainable pangasius farming. Recommendations from the TWGs will be presented to the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue – a diverse group of pangasius farming stakeholders – for final consideration by the end of this year.
This process was approved at the second meeting of the pangasius Dialogue, held March 27-28 in Can Tho City, Vietnam and attended by more than 100 people. Participants included producers, processors, exporters, seafood buyers, academics, government officials and NGOs.
“Consensus building is always a tough challenge but the Dialogue members have now agreed on an organizational structure that empowers the technical working groups to work towards the development of draft standards before the end of the year,” said Dialogue participant David Graham of BirdsEye/Iglo. “The process is now more efficient, focused on delivery and structured in a way to ensure all stakeholders remain fully represented.”
To develop its recommendations, the TWGs, which will be formed by mid-May, will consider the outcomes of the Dialogue Steering Committee discussions and the comments about criteria, indicators and standards made at the second Dialogue meeting. (Note: Dialogue participants voted March 28th to disband the Steering Committee and replace it with a smaller group called the Process Facilitation Group that, unlike the committee, does not have executive decision-making authority.) Members of the TWG also will seek comments from stakeholders who have not been able to attend the Dialogue meetings.
Once approved by the Dialogue, the criteria, indicators and standards will be posted for public comment. Two 60-day public comment periods will be held.
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 standards also will address the needs of small-scale producers.
“No matter what standards are developed, they must take into consideration the unique issues small-scale farmers face,” said Jose Villalon, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. Aquaculture Program. “In Vietnam, where most pangasius is produced, small-scale producers are the backbone of the industry.”
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.
To nominate somebody for a TWG and to submit comments to the TWG regarding the criteria, indicators and standards, please send a message to Flavio Corsin of WWF at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the pangasius Dialogue and all of the WWF Dialogues, go to www.worldwildlife.org/aquadialogues
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