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WWF To Help Fund Creation Of Aquaculture Stewardship Council

New Entity Will Manage Sustainable Seafood Farming Standards Under Development by the Aquaculture Dialogues

WASHINGTON, DC – Global standards for responsible seafood farming, which are under development by the Aquaculture Dialogue roundtables, will be managed by a new entity to be co-founded by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The new Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) will be responsible for working with independent, third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards. WWF is fully funding the business development phase for the ASC and the business strategy for this new venture, which is expected to be in operation within two years. WWF also will help fund the implementation of the strategy.

More than 2,000 farmers, conservationists, government officials and others participate in the open Aquaculture Dialogue meetings – making this the world’s most inclusive and transparent process for creating measurable, performance-based standards for aquaculture. WWF, which coordinates the Dialogues, is one of the stakeholder groups engaged in the process.

“This is an unprecedented effort to ensure that future aquaculture is environmentally sustainable, and well-positioned to meet the growing demand for seafood worldwide,” said WWF-International Director General James P. Leape.  “These new standards will raise the bar in the industry, giving consumers assurance that their food purchases are good for the environment.”

Added WWF-US President Carter Roberts, “This investment aligns perfectly with WWF’s goal of protecting the world’s oceans and coastal habitats while providing innovative paths for feeding the world more efficiently and sustainably. With a credible entity in place for certifying farmed seafood, the seafood industry can continue to grow but in a way that is environmentally responsible.”

Over the next year, draft standards for minimizing the key environmental and social impacts associated with aquaculture will be completed for 11 aquaculture species that have the greatest impact on the environment, highest market value and/or the heaviest trading in the global market. They are salmon, shrimp, trout, pangasius, abalone, mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, cobia and Seriola. Draft standards for tilapia were posted for public comment in September 2008 and final standards for tilapia are expected to be completed this spring.

A key component of the ASC business strategy will be following the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance’s guidelines for certification programs – the world’s most reputable guidelines for addressing social and environmental issues. None of the existing aquaculture certification schemes have governance structures that are in compliance with ISEAL. The Marine Stewardship Council and Forestry Stewardship Council, also co-founded by WWF, are ISEAL compliant.

For more information about the Aquaculture Dialogues, go to www.worldwildlife.org/aquadialogues