Canada saw a strong demand for its farmed seafood, particularly in the US and Asia last year. "We now, in fact, have greater demand than we have supply", says a top executive of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.
'FRESH AND HEALTH'
Canada can hardly meet seafood demand
Canada enjoyed a healthy farmed seafood sector in 2015, even as fish-product supplies can hardly meet demand, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) said.
Trade data showed that the volume of exports for all aquaculture products last year was over 100,000 tonnes, while the value of exports was just under $770 million.
"2015 was a year of sustainable and responsible growth for farmed seafood in Canada," said Ruth Salmon, CAIA executive director. "Last year we saw strong demand for Canadian farmed seafood in the US and new demand in Asia. We now, in fact, have greater demand than we have supply."
By species, salmon exports reached almost 78,000 tonnes, for a value of just under $600 million. Exports were up in all key markets including the US, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The volume of farmed mussel exports was down 13%, due mainly to extremely harsh weather across Atlantic Canada in early 2015, while value was up from 2014.
"As global demand for fresh and healthy farmed seafood continues to grow, Canada is uniquely positioned to deliver the highest-quality and most highly valued products," Salmon said.
A Senate committee that undertook a study of aquaculture in Canada last year said in its report—issued after holding 34 public hearings that heard 138 witnesses and received hundreds of written submissions; visiting 23 Canadian regions in six provinces; and travelling to Norway and Scotland—that Canada is uniquely positioned for oceans of new opportunities in aquaculture, and called for a federal National Aquaculture Act.
"A new science-based regulatory framework for the farmed seafood sector remains vital to continued innovation and meeting future demand," Salmon said. "As we grow to meet new opportunities, we remain committed to global leadership and responsible and sustainable best practices."
'BENEFICIAL TO HEALTH'
Paper underlines importance of fish consumption
A paper prepared by WorldFish, an international, nonprofit research organisation, has recommended that the important of consumption of fish for its nutritional value be considered in the framing of national policies, especially in resource-poor populations that rely heavily on cereal based-diets.
Improving fisheries and aquaculture with the adoption of nutrition-sensitive policies will be a critical means to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), according to the paper, entitled "Sustaining healthy diets: The role of capture fisheries and aquaculture for improving nutrition in the post-2015 era".
The SDGs make achieving food security and ending malnutrition a global priority. However, the importance of fish for feeding the growing global population and providing a "healthy life for all" is often overlooked, the paper said.
Fish intake is associated with a 36% reduced mortality risk from heart disease and consumption of 60 grammes of fish per day is associated with a 12% reduction in mortality. An increasing number of countries recommend minimum levels of regular fish consumption in their national dietary guidelines.
WorldFish program leader Shakuntala Thilsted said: "Fish are beneficial to nutrition and health and will play an essential role in sustaining healthy diets. If the vision of the SDGs is to be attained, coordinated policy actions and investments that foster growth in which the benefits of fish are equitably distributed are essential. Fisheries and aquaculture must be seen as core components of the agriculture sector, as well as an entry point for multi-sectoral interventions aimed at improving nutrition and health outcomes".
The paper recommends multi-sectoral policy solutions based on diversification of production systems; efficient management and protection of all systems; improved value chains and markets; and consideration of context-specific consumer preferences and nutritional needs.
TO BOOST PRODUCTION
EU launches aquaculture website
The EU has launched a new website, the "EU Aquaculture Online", a one-stop-shop information source for businesses on EU rules and member states' strategic priorities to encourage investment in the sector.
The EU commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella, has launched "EU Aquaculture Online", a one-stop-shop information source for businesses on EU rules and member states' strategic priorities to encourage investment in the sector.
During a high-level event held in Brussels, Belgium, on May 24,the European Commission also adopted guidelines on sustainable aquaculture, compatible with environmental protection under the Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
"While the EU only produces 2% of all fish farmed worldwide, when it comes to quality, it is a world leader: be it in product quality, in research, in environmental standards", EU Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said.
"Building on this quality, we need to continue our work to help the European aquaculture sector grow, including through improved business certainty and financial support", he added.
The event also served to highlight the progress made over the past years and further actions needed in developing a sustainable aquaculture sector in the EU.
Aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production in Europe, but while global production of farmed fish has been growing by nearly 7% per year, the EU's overall output has been more or less constant in volume since 2000.
The Commission intends to boost the aquaculture sector through the Common Fisheries Policy reform. It has adopted strategic guidelines, which identified four priority areas including reducing administrative burdens; improving access to space and water; increasing competitiveness; and exploiting competitive advantages due to high quality, health and environmental standards.
Based on the guidelines, the EC and EU countries are collaborating to help increase the sector's production and competitiveness. EU member states have been asked to set up multiannual plans to promote aquaculture.
Indonesia seeks to increase fish exports
Indonesia is seeking the lifting of Russia's ban on Indonesian fish and fish products due to sanitary issues, as it tries to recover from plummeting exports.
In a meeting between Indonesian Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and Ilya Shestakov, chair of the Federal Agency for Fishery of the Russian Federation at the Asean-Russia Summit held on May 19-20, Indonesia sought Russia's cancellation of the registration of over 100 Indonesian fish processing units.
Russia revoked the registration of 167 fish processing units in 2013 because, according to Minister Pudjiastuti, "Indonesia's fish contained mercury, heavy metals and pathogenic microorganisms". A year later, he added, 15 processing units were recognised by Russia as meeting its health standards. Indonesia wants at least another 11 processing units added to the Russian list of registered Indonesian fish processing units.
The Indonesian government has yet to recover from its plummeting fish export. In 2014, its fish exports plunged to US$7.6 million in value from the previous year's $44.4 million. Last year, exports saw a heartening increase to $13.8 million, but still a far cry from the 2014 level.
Irish aquaculture rebounds in 2015
Farmed fish and shellfish production in Ireland recovered strongly last year, as value increased from EUR134 million (US$149 million) to a first point of sale value of almost EUR150 million ($167 million), latest data from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) showed. BIM is the Irish state agency responsible for developing the seafish and aquaculture industries.
In terms of volume, overall production increased 27% to 40,140 tonnes year-on-year.
Tara McCarthy, BIM chief executive officer, said, "While 2015 was a challenging year for some operators in the shellfish industry, overall, it has been a positive year for Irish aquaculture. The 27 percent increase in production volumes is a welcome step towards the targets set out in the National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture, which sets a growth target of 45,000 tonnes across all aquaculture production by 2020."
Ms McCarthy said the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), in addition to the funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is providing almost EUR30 million to help the aquaculture sector achieve these targets.
Salmon accounts for 64% of Ireland's total aquaculture production, valued at EUR95 million, while shellfish accounts for the rest, valued at EUR51 million.
Drought damages 81,000 hectares of Vietnam shrimp ponds
Over 81,000 hectares of shrimp-breeding areas in eight Mekong provinces in Vietnam have been damaged by the prolonged drought, according to the latest assessment of the Department of Aquaculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
A spokesperson of the aquaculture department said the environmental conditions and hot weather had caused freshwater shortages and an increase in salinity, which are unfavourable for shrimp breeding.
Cà Mau, the largest shrimp-farming province, was reported to have suffered the biggest losses, estimated at VND260 billion (US$11.5 million), followed by Kiên Giang, Bạc Liêu and Sóc Trăng. Earlier in April MARD reported that some 2,700 hectares of shrimp ponds in Cà Mau and around 1,360 hectares in Bạc Liêu had been damaged due to drought.
In April Cà Mau reported a shrimp shortage, with the supplies at only 37%-38% of processing workshops' capacity.
Salinity in rivers in Cà Mau reached 3.6-4.2% and 4-5.5% in breeding ponds. The salinity in areas far from rivers was higher than in coastal areas in the province.
GE salmon gets Canada nod
Canada has approved the commercial sale of the world's first genetically engineered salmon, the second country to do so after the US.
Health Canada, after reviewing the farmed AquAdvantage Salmon, has concluded that it is as safe and nutritious for humans as the conventional salmon. Health Canada is the government department responsible for national public health.
The animal feed division under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has also determined that feed ingredients derived from AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe and nutritious as the feeds derived from other permitted salmons to be used as livestock feed in Canada.
Dr. Ronald L. Stotish, CEO of the US-based AquaBounty Technologies, the producer of the GE AquAdvantage Salmon, said, "We are pleased to receive the approvals of the various authorities of Canada which means we can produce, sell and eat our AquAdvantage Salmon in Canada. We thank the scientists in the Ministries of Health, Food Inspection and Fisheries of the Canadian government for carrying out their assessments diligently and confirming the safety of our salmon for both the consumer and the environment.
Earlier in November 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended its approval for the AquAdvantage Salmon, its first for a genetically engineered animal intended for food.
Last February, however, the FDA temporarily halted imports of the GE salmon, pending the publication of the final rules regarding product labelling. The FDA stated that the temporary ban was being implemented to comply with language in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The particular language directed the FDA to issue final guidance for GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling of AquAdvantage Salmon.
Health Canada said that while it requires labelling for food products, including genetically modified foods, where health risks or significant changes to the nutritional qualities of the food have been identified and can be mitigated through labelling, it doesn't require special labelling for AquAdvantage Salmon since no health and safety concerns have been identified.
AquAdvantage Salmon is an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size faster than the non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. It is raised in Canada and Panama in land-based, contained hatchery tanks.
Thailand: EU extends yellow card for 6 months
Thailand said it has been given by the EU Commission another six months to end illegal fishing.
"They have not yet upgraded us, but extended (the yellow card status) for another six months. Maintaining the same position is fine, as the problems have been accumulating a for long time," Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan was quoted by the Thai daily The Nation as saying last May 23.
There has been no formal announcement from the European Commission.
On Tuesday, May 24, Thailand retracted its earlier claim, clarifying that the European Union had not yet reached a decision on whether to red-card (ban Thai seafood imports) or yellow-card (warn) Thailand over the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry said Thailand still has time to work on the IUU issues before the EU makes a decision.
A Thai team went to Brussels earlier in May to discuss Thailand's progress in its fight against IUU fishing. Adisorn Promthep, who replaced allegedly underperforming Wimol Jantrarotai as director-general Department of Fisheries in April, said Thailand has instigated new license and monitoring systems for fishing vessels since receiving the EU yellow-card warning in April last year, according to news agency Reuters.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha admitted last month that his government had been slow in resolving illegal fishing conditions.
SouthFresh seeks 3-star BAP certification for catfish
US company SouthFresh Aquaculture hopes to get the coveted three-star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification for its catfish produce.
SouthFresh Feeds enrolled its feed mill in the iBAP program earlier this year, a precursor to the BAP certification programme. The iBAP program is a deadline-driven plan providing technical support for facilities committed to full BAP certification.
SouthFresh Aquaculture's processing plant in Eutaw, Alabama, has been BAP-certified since October 2009, and one of its farms was BAP-certified in January 2016. With the anticipated BAP certification of its feed mill, SouthFresh Aquaculture would earn three-star BAP status, meaning, its processing plant, farm and feed mill are BAP-certified.
Having the feed mill enrolled in the iBAP programme sets up SouthFresh to become the first three-star BAP catfish company in the US, and potentially the first four-star BAP catfish company later this year. SouthFresh Aquaculture is currently pursuing BAP certification for its hatchery as well, meaning it would then be eligible to offer four-star BAP catfish. The four-star designation is the highest in the BAP third-party certification programme.
"This has been a long time in coming", said Peter Redmond, BAP's vice president of market development. "SouthFresh is demonstrating real leadership within the catfish industry and taking very strong and proactive actions to demonstrate its commitment to selling responsible, sustainable product to the marketplace".
As a leader in catfish feed research, SouthFresh Feeds recognises the importance of producing safe, nutrient dense feed for catfish, said the company. Along with BAP certification, SouthFresh Feeds is also pursuing Safe Feed Safe Food Certification. These certifications will be a first in the US catfish feed industry.
SouthFresh Aquaculture is a unique catfish processor in that its parent company, Alabama Farmers' Cooperative (AFC), is a bona fide farmer cooperative that's 100% owned by US farmers.
AFC is known for its Bonnie Plants division, which recently partnered with Scotts Miracle Gro, establishing a powerhouse team in consumer lawn and garden. This distinct structure of SouthFresh allows for strong partnerships with catfish farmers industry wide.
Through field service assistance to their catfish growers, proprietary feed formulas produced at its feed mill, and the strength of BAP programmes, SouthFresh is positioned to excel and advance the quality and health of its supply chain, said the company.