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Climate Change and „good aquaculture practices“

On the 25th of September 2015 the United Nations adopted resolution “70/1 Transforming our world: the 2030  Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In this resolution 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) were outlined. SDG #13 addresses climate change. “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development. Increases in global temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other climate change impacts are seriously affecting coastal areas and low-lying coastal countries, including many least developed countries and small island developing States. The survival of many societies, and of the biological support systems of the planet, is at risk.”¹ Aquaculture is not immune to the impacts of climate change. There are two recent examples in 2016: algae blooms killed US $600 million of salmon in Chile (additional losses were experienced in the farmed mussel and artisanal fisheries) and salt water intrusion in the Mekong delta brought on by drought in Vietnam, which resulted in an estimated US $11.6 million loss to the shrimp sector. In the future, aquaculture enterprises will need to factor the potential negative effects of climate change into their long term strategic planning and the ‘good aquaculture practices’ of certified aquaculture will become even more important in reducing negative impacts on the environment and society.

Escapes: There is much concern about escapees from aquaculture interbreeding with wild fish populations. Certified aquaculture is proactive by conducting environmental impact assessments (EIA) and environmental risk assessments (ERA) to determine potential interactions between farmed and indigenous species. Furthermore, certified aquaculture has rigorous and robust standards not only to prevent escapes, but outlines the responsibilities of a facility where escapes have occurred. For example, where nets pens are used, facilities must document nets, mooring equipment and navigation aids are in good working order. Net mesh size must be sufficient to contain the fish. Any use of equipment or machinery on the farm must be done in a fashion that minimizes the likelihood of escape. Farms must have a contingency plan to prevent escapes and procedures for reporting escapes to the government. In short, certified aquaculture helps ensure certified facilities employ ‘good aquaculture practices’ to manage escapes and to minimize the probability of escape.

As a food production system, aquaculture strives to minimize its negative environmental impacts by protecting the biodiversity of the ecosystem in which an aquaculture enterprise operates. This includes protecting predators through predator control plans. Predator control plans document anti-predator control methods to ensure they are consistent with legislation and good practices. They also ensure where destruction of predators is unavoidable it is done within the confines of existing legislation and all predator mortalities are documented.

Often times we hear the word traceability used interchangeably with chain-of-custody. It is important to understand the difference between the 2 terms. “The Codex Alimentarius Commission² (FAO) defines Traceability as “the ability to follow the movement of a food through specified stage(s) of production, processing and distribution”.” Furthermore, “Traceability/product tracing is a tool that when applied in a food inspection and certification system can contribute to the protection of consumers against deceptive marketing practices and facilitation of trade on the basis of accurate product description.”³ In practical terms, traceability enables us to trace the product back to the source because each link in the supply chain can identify one link upstream (the supplier) and the link downstream (the next customer). Chain-of-custody is a set of procedures which separates certified product from uncertified product by time and space. By combining traceability and chain-of-custody, certified aquaculture ensures the legitimacy of product labelling and product origin so when you buy a certified aquaculture product you can do so with confidence and knowledge of the product’s authenticity and origin.



[1]  S. 5/35