The proposed guidelines cover various aspects of aquaculture production. (Photo: FAO/ M.Namundjebo and Roberto Faidutti)
Global guidelines for aquaculture certification proposed
Monday, October 04, 2010, 12:00 (GMT + 9)
The Sub-Committee of Aquaculture of the Committee on Fisheries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have adopted a set of global guidelines for the certification of aquaculture products.
The guidelines, which are not binding, cover issues such as animal health, food safety and environmental and socioeconomic aspects related to those who work in the aquaculture sector.
If the guidelines are approved by the Committee of Fisheries from the FAO, which is likely to happen during a meeting to be held in Rome during January 2011, consumers worldwide are likely to benefit from a labeling standard for aquaculture products.
They will be able to know whether they are buying shrimp that has been reared without damaging coastal mangrove areas, if the farmer has received a fair wage or if the shellfish is contaminated or not, among other issues.
"These guidelines were developed to help what is the fastest growing food sector in the world," said Rohana Subasinghe, an aquaculture expert from the FAO.
He added: "The certification of aquaculture products has proliferated over the years requiring all sorts of things. There was previously no criteria, benchmarks and agreed principles. Aquaculture products are traded globally and it is important that we ensure responsible production and consumer satisfaction."
Subasinghe said that there are ways for small farmers to operate within a modern system of certification. "In India and Thailand, for example, groups of farmers can share the costs of certification, so that it is not too high for them," he said.
FAO stressed that the guidelines were completed after four years of consultation and discussion between the governments of more than 50 countries as well as producers, processors and traders.
By Analia Murias
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization - Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (Headquarter)