August 26, 2008


US supermarkets making progress towards sustainable aquaculture


US supermarkets are making progress towards helping to develop sustainable aquaculture by specifying that they would only procure from suppliers who encourages the practice.


Organic retailer Whole Foods last month announced the first comprehensive set of aquaculture guidelines by a major retailer while Wal-Mart has established standards for farmed shrimp and certified its factories with the Aquaculture Certification Council.


Wegmans, a supermarket chain store in the north-eastern US, worked with Environmental Defense Fund on its farmed-shrimp policy to ban antibiotics and other practices of sustainable aquaculture.


Jill Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the World Wildlife Fund, which has advised Whole Foods on its standards, said these have been positive developments at a time of growing US demand for seafood. 


Supermarkets increasingly rely on the $70 billion worldwide aquaculture industry to help meet that demand as the supply of wild-caught fish remains limited.


Although the non-profit Marine Stewardship Council provides certification for suppliers of wild-caught seafood, there is no widely accepted standard for sustainable farming practices.


Still, there are groups establishing aquaculture guidelines.


The World Wildlife Fund launched its "aquaculture dialogues" several years ago and plans to announce standards for tilapia by the end of the year, followed by catfish, several mollusks, shrimp and salmon next year.


The Global Aquaculture Alliance has established standards for shrimp and some catfish and is expected to unveil a plan for tilapia soon. In Europe, the Global Partnership for Good Agriculture Practice certifies salmon and trout and is working on standards for shrimp and tilapia.

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