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Mussel and clam farming site in Krabbe Peninsula, Russian Federation. (Photo: WWF-Canon)

Bivalve aquaculture standards nearing completion

WORLDWIDE
Wednesday, February 03, 2010, 02:40 (GMT + 9)

The Bivalve Aquaculture Dialogue kicked off the last public comment period on Monday for its draft standards to create global standards for bivalve aquaculture.

The standards will tackle the potential harmful environmental and social issues associated with farming filter-feeding bivalves (clams, oysters, mussels and scallops), such as the introduction of exotic pests and pathogens.
Colin Brannen and Roxanne Ackerman working at an oyster farm in Massachusetts. (Photo: Jon Cheng, WWF)

Any feedback received during the 60-day public comment period will be used by the Dialogue’s 14-person steering committee to complete the standards during the first quarter of 2010. The committee also will rely on feedback from the 400-plus people who have attended the Dialogue’s meetings since the process began in 2007, the feedback provided by 70 people during the first public comment period and issues raised during outreach meetings held recently with bivalve farmers and others in China and Australia.

“We have heard from a lot of people already and have used their input to make the document stronger,” said Colin Brannen of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who coordinates the Dialogue. “In this last stage, we want as many people as possible to weigh in so that the final standards are as practical and effective as possible.”

Significant changes have been made since the first version of the document was posted for public comment in October 2009 to reflect feedback received. Changes include making the standards more accessible to small-scale farmers and demanding stricter restrictions on chemical use.

“It was important to strengthen the standards related to chemical use because the vast majority of people who provided feedback said that the original standards were incompatible with an eco-label for sustainable bivalve aquaculture” said steering committee member Tom Pickerell of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain (SAGB).

Most of the bivalve standards will be metrics-based, the best way to find whether the industry’s impact on the environment is reduced. The standards also will be performance-based to encourage innovation at the farm level.

Standards also are being drafted for salmon, shrimp, freshwater trout, Seriola, cobia, pangasius and abalone; standards for tilapia were finalized in December.

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All of the Dialogue standards will be amended periodically to reflect changes in science and technology and to encourage continuous progress. The revisions will be coordinated by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) with input from Dialogue participants.

The public comment period will end on 1 April.

When finalized, the standards will be given to ASC to manage. The council, expected to be in operation in 2011, will be responsible for working with independent, third-party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the standards.

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  WWF Norway
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