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Point of View: Jose Villalon

Managing director, global aquaculture, World Wildlife Fund U.S., Washington, D.C.

Property of SeaFood Business magazine

November 01, 2008

What is needed is a single, credible aquaculture certification program that offers one-stop-shopping to producers and won't confuse consumers.

"Sustainability" is more than just a buzzword in the seafood industry. There is action behind the word, including the creation of programs to certify seafood that is produced sustainably.

The best program will be one that offers one-stop-shopping to producers. This type of program would let producers become certified by one entity for seafood that is sustainable from a food-safety, traceability, social and environmental standpoint. They would benefit from a smaller investment in time and money to become certified. It's also a win for commercial buyers and consumers, who would have a clear choice when looking for sustainable products instead of a confusing array of options. That's something we all can rally behind. It is crucial that the standards behind the program are credible, rigorous and robust. Without that, the certification system will fail. This has huge implications for aquaculture, which supplies half the fish the world eats. The standards must be developed using a model that soars past guidelines set by the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance and proposed by the Fisheries and Agriculture Organization.

The best model for developing a single set of environmental and social aquaculture standards is the Aquaculture Dialogues - a process that has the support of more than 1,500 seafood industry stakeholders, including representatives from more than 90 non-governmental organizations and the 14 organizations that developed the Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood. Once these standards are completed, they should be combined with the rigorous food safety and traceability standards already available in the marketplace to create a one-stop-shop certification system that meets the needs of producers and consumers.

 

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