Eight of the world's largest seafood companies have banded together in an effort to "change the international fishing industry". The group intends to clear out illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries and inhumane working conditions. "Only by strengthening our global partnership will we find good solutions for sustainability that can increase food production from the sea", said Einar Wathne, president of Cargill Aqua Nutrition, one of the initiative's founding members.




8 seafood firms join forces for sustainable industry


Eight of the world's largest seafood companies have formed an alliance aimed at "changing the international fishing industry".


Called the "Seafood Business Ocean Stewardship", the group intends to clear out IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fisheries and inhumane working conditions.


The eight companies include Maruha Nichiro Corp., Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd, Thai Union Group, Marine Harvest ASA, Dongwon Industries, Nutreco (owner of Skretting), Cargill Aqua Nutrition and Cermaq (subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp.).


"Increasingly more people look to the sea for solutions to the global food and climate challenges facing the world community. Only by strengthening our global partnership will we find good solutions for sustainability that can increase food production from the sea", said Einar Wathne, president of Cargill Aqua Nutrition and chairman of the seafood innovation cluster of the Norwegian Centre of Expertise.


The eight companies pointed out that global seafood trade is dominated by a handful of large companies that control up to 16% of the earth's most important fish resources. They stressed their large impact on global seafood trade, and expressed concern about the future of the ocean in the face of a lack of environmental strategy and inadequate resource management. 


Nutreco CEO Knut Nesse said the eight companies' initiative links the challenges in wild fisheries and aquaculture while Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog stressed that aquaculture is one of the most sustainable ways of producing food for its capability to produce protein with very low CO2 emissions.

"The world needs safe, healthy and good food produced in a sustainable and efficient manner. As much as 70% of the planet is covered by water, but only 2% of our food comes from the sea. We want to do something with this", Aarskog said.


The new initiative was conceived out of a research finding by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) at Stockholm University in 2015 that the 13 biggest companies, which it identified, largely controls the global seafood market, whether it's aquaculture or fisheries. A meeting among the companies in November resulted in the initiative Seafood Business Ocean Stewardship to create a "unified transformation of the seafood industry."


Research in the US showed that better management and controls of the catch of various fish stocks cannot only save the world's fish resources but also make it considerably more profitable.


The companies will follow up efforts in 2017 with discussions on specific measures to be taken.




Contaminated Chinese shrimp enter US via Malaysia


Chinese shrimp contaminated by antibiotics was allegedly being imported to the US via Malaysia, falsely labelled as Malaysian product, an investigative report from Bloomberg Businessweek said.


The report documented the abuse of antibiotics in raising both terrestrial and aquatic livestock in China, as well as the public health threat posed by the further spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


It also said that in response to efforts to counteract transshipment of Chinese shrimp through Malaysia, new transshipment channels might have been opened to facilitate the importation of cheap Chinese shrimp into the US market.


"As long as there are distributors, retailers and restaurants that, provided that the price is low, do not know and do not care where their shrimp is coming from, we expect to see shrimp-trade fraud", Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams was quoted as saying by Bloomberg Businessweek.


The in-depth report, entitled "How Antibiotic-Tainted Seafood from China Ends Up on Your Table" can be read here.




Imports remain backbone of EU seafood industry


The volume of imported fish into the EU in 2015 was down to 8.98 million tonnes, while fish exports were also down sharply by 16.5% to 1.913 million tonnes, the 206 Finfish Study conducted by the EU Fish Processors Association – European Federation of National Organisations of Importers and Exporters of Fish (AIPCE-CEP) showed.


The 2016 AIPCE-CEP Finfish Study delivers information on actual performance and future trends of the trade in fish, to exemplify the need for imported seafood to produce added value seafood within Europe.


Main findings showed that total market supply in the EU was down at 14.1 million tonnes. The share of imports was slightly up at 63.5%.  While internal supply is showing signs of recovery, imports remain the backbone of the industry, the study said.


Total EU catches of all species were marginally up 1.4% at 5.156 million tonnes.


Other important findings include:


-- Net consumption was marginally up 0.2kg/capita to 24.1kg.


-- EU catches for whitefish species increased 4.6% and quota utilisation improved significantly to 80.6%.


-- Wild capture whitefish import dependency slightly reduced to 88%. 


-- Salmon was the No. 1 species by live weight.


-- Trend for primary processing in Europe appears to be consolidating.


The 2016 AIPCE-CEP Finfish Study provides key figures on recent developments in the EU seafood market. It provides a unique record and commentary of the fish industry.


FinFish Study 2016 can be found in this link.




US is Vietnam's top pangasius export market


The US is Vietnam's top seafood market, accounting for over 20% of the Southeast Asian country's total pangasius export value, latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) showed, according to a report posted by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep).


Earlier Vasep reported that the US also emerged as the largest importer of Vietnamese shrimp in the first nine months, accounting for 23% of total Vietnamese shrimp exports during that period.


MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that despite the challenges posed by the markets and climate change, Vietnam has still seen growth in pangasius exports.


Vietnamese pangasius is present in 140 market—four more markets than in 2015, Cuong said.


The cultivation area for the whole year is estimated at 5,000 hectares, generating a total output of over 1 million tonnes of pangasius and raking in US$1.6 billion in total export value, up 6.6% over the previous year, he noted.


To boost seafood exports, the ministry urges the sector to continue investment in raw materials and intensify technology improvement, supervision on product quality, as well as trade-promotion activities abroad.




Vietnamese aquatic product exports fetch US$7B in 2016


Vietnam's export turnover of aquatic products this year increased 6.6% over 2015, despite drought and saltwater intrusion in southcentral provinces and the Mekong Delta region, and the maritime environmental incident in four central provinces, which caused severe impacts on aquaculture and seafood catching.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported that this year's aquatic exports raked in US$7 billion, while the total output of aquatic products increased 2.5% year-on-year to over 6.7 million tonnes, of which 3.6 million tonnes were from aquaculture and 3.1 million tonnes were from fishing, up 3.3% and 1.7%, respectively.


The Directorate of Fisheries said the impacts of the environmental disturbances in the first half were mitigated by the improved output in the second half of the year.


The total farming area reached 1.3 million hectares, the Vietnam News Agency reported.


In 2017, the seafood sector aims to produce 6.85 million tonnes, including 3.05 million tonnes from fishing and 3.8 million tonnes from farming, and earn $7.3 billion from exports.




Number of BAP-certified facilities tops 1,500


The number of Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)-certified facilities has surpassed the 1,500 mark, with the addition of 67 new facilities to the third-party aquaculture certification programme in November.


At the end of November, there were 1,527 BAP-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills worldwide, the Global Aquaculture Alliance announced.


The BAP programme has more than doubled in size in the past two years, growing from 701 BAP-certified facilities at the end of 2014 to 1,500-plus facilities today, demonstrating the industry's commitment to responsible aquaculture.


November's tally was the BAP programme's second-highest in 2016 after June, when a record 74 new facilities earned BAP certification.


Of the 67 new facilities that attained BAP certification in November, eight were processing plants, 49 farms, nine hatcheries and one was a feed mill. Over the first 11 months of 2016, 54 processing plants, 390 farms, 73 hatcheries and 20 feed mills achieved BAP certification for the first time.


At the end of November, there were 350 BAP-certified processing plants, up from 308 at the end of 2015. Collectively, they produce 2.24 million tonnes of shrimp, salmon, tilapia, pangasius and other farmed seafood species annually.


There were 951 BAP-certified farms at the end of November, up from 606 at the end of 2015. The number of BAP-certified hatcheries and feed mills stood at 157 and 69, respectively.


BAP is the world's leading third-party aquaculture certification programme. It is also the world's most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification programme, with standards encompassing environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare, and traceability.




Cermaq recommends aquaculture at global forum


The 2016 Global Forum gathered business leaders from the world's largest companies, members of Time 100 list of the world's most influential people, and leaders from NGOs, non-profit organisations, organised labor and various religions.


During the event in Rome, Italy, Cermaq endorsed initiatives in which partnerships can be a driving force for meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The company is focusing especially on SDG 14 Life below water, and how aquaculture is a part of the solution, not only in salmon farming but in general.


"Over these days, I have had the unique opportunity to talk with global influencers over the benefits of aquaculture and the enormous potential for technology transfer to other species and regions", said CEO Geir Molvik.


According to Cermaq, the world is moving toward a global population with 9 billion people as agriculture faces new problems from global climate. The OECD estimates that by 2050, the world's demand for water will grow by 55%. How global companies contribute to efforts to conserve and more efficiently use water supplies was one of the challenges presented by Judith Rodin, president of Rockefeller Foundation.


Farmed salmon has a very small ecological footprint compared with agriculture, Molvik added. There should be a continual effort to expand the volumes of this climate-friendly food production in the regions where natural conditions for salmon farming are favourable, as well as replace meat with seafood, which is good for the health and the climate.


Today, only 7% of global protein consumption comes from seafood, whereas the oceans cover 70% of the earth's surface. Salmon farming, being a small part of global aquaculture, is technically the most advanced and, hence, there is a large potential for transfer of technology and competence and for growth of aquaculture.




Marine Harvest nominated to buy Canada farming assets


Marine Harvest announced that the company has been nominated by the receiver of all assets owned by the Gray Aqua Group of Companies, to purchase the latter.


The acquisition price on a cash and debt-free basis is CAD15 million (US$11.2 million). The company is based on the East Coast of Canada and is currently in receivership. The acquisition is important from a strategic point of view, as it further broadens Marine Harvest's global farming footprint in a country where the company is already present on the West Coast. The market for salmon in Northeast America continues to develop very favourably, and the acquisition represents as a compelling value proposition, Marine Harvest said.


The assets purchased include one hatchery in New Brunswick, two farming licenses in New Brunswick, seven farming licenses in Newfoundland, and one processing plant in Newfoundland. Currently, no fish has been stocked in the mentioned licenses. In addition, the company has applied for 17 farming licenses in Newfoundland, which are yet to be approved. Marine Harvest is looking forward to engage with the relevant authorities to secure additional farming locations, as well as establish new jobs in the local communities.


Marine Harvest will shortly start to detail a production plan and investment framework for the East Coast of Canada, including building an organisation capable of producing 15,000-20,000 tonnes gutted weight equivalent of salmon per annum.


Closing of the transaction is subject to signing a final purchase agreement, as well as approval by the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick.




Thai Union vows to promote sustainable fishing practices


The Thai Union Group said it was committed to efforts of reform in the fishing industry and that it has taken significant steps to promote safe and legal labour.


It said reform starts with implementing a zero-tolerance policy for human rights violations, as Dr. Darian McBain, global sustainability director at Thai Union, highlights in an article entitled "Tackling Slavery at Sea".


Thai Union puts in place SeaChange, a sustainability strategy incorporating a labour road map that supports legal employment. The company also engaged in a traceability programme that monitors its products from catch to consumption. Traceability is the backbone of Thai Union's responsible sourcing programme, enabling the company to prove that its seafood is legally and safely produced, while facilitating the voice of workers operating both at sea and on land.


Thai Union subjects itself to best-in-class external verifications and audits by third-party certification bodies as well as civil society, as it works to improve standard labour practices and eradicate abuses in the industry.


The company also works with advocacy groups to engage workers in social dialogue and ensure that it is fully aware of their perspectives on working conditions.


However, problems still exist and Thai Union recognises more still needs to be done, the company said in a statement. "We will continue our work with government, stakeholders and the wider seafood industry, working together to drive change and ensure safe and legal labour for all workers," it said.

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