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Draft Standards for Sustainable Bivalve Aquaculture Completed

First Public Comment Period Begins

WASHINGTON, DC: Draft standards for sustainable bivalve farming, created by the 300-plus participants of the Bivalve Aquaculture Dialogue, were posted for public comment today. This is the third set of draft standards produced through a series of roundtables, collectively called the Aquaculture Dialogues. All of the standards will be global, performance-based, and designed to minimize the key environmental and social impacts associated with aquaculture.

Feedback received during the 60-day comment period will be used by the bivalve Dialogue’s Global Steering Committee (GSC) to revise the standards before they are posted for the last public comment period. Final standards are expected by mid-2010. The standards will be for all cultivated bivalves, including clams, oysters, mussels and scallops. Issues addressed in the standards include organic enrichment, ecological carrying capacity and biosecurity.

“To get to this point, we’ve worked with the world’s leading bivalve producers, scientists, conservationists and a lot of other people who have expertise and interest in making sure aquaculture has little or no negative impact on the environment or society,” said Dialogue Coordinator Colin Brannen of World Wildlife Fund, the organization that coordinates the Dialogues. “We hope that, through the public comment periods, we get the final bit of feedback needed to produce what I believe will be the world’s most credible standards for the industry.” 

Added GSC member Sandy Shumway of the University of Connecticut, “The aquaculture industry will continue to expand. The rate, geographic distribution and quality remain to be determined. The GSC has assembled a framework that will assist growers to continue their environmental stewardship and to maintain their culture facilities in a sustainable manner, while allowing shellfish aquaculture to continue to grow and help meet the global demand for more seafood.”     

Committee members will reach out to key stakeholder groups to encourage them to review and comment on the draft standards and to make certain that the standards are fair and accessible to all levels of bivalve production. Anybody can provide input by review the standards and completing the comment form, which are both available at www.worldwildlife.org/bivalvedialogue.

This type of open, transparent, multi-stakeholder approach is used by all of the Aquaculture Dialogue roundtables. It is the only process for aquaculture standard-setting that is in compliance with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance’s guidelines for creating environmental and social standards. Other draft standards produced to date through the Dialogue process include tilapia and pangasius, which are expected to be finalized in late 2009 and early 2010, respectively.

To read and comment on the bivalve standards, go to www.worldwildlife.org/bivalvedialogue