www.gaalliance.org and www.aquaculturecertification.org
The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is an international, non-profit trade association founded in 1997 by a wide range (59 funding members) of companies involved with aquaculture production or the food business in general and mostly based in the Americas. GAA's mission is to promote environmentally responsible aquaculture to meet world food needs. The vision of GAA is to develop and encourage aquaculture systems suitable to environmental and community needs, improve systems' efficiency, promote effective and coordinated government regulation and trade policies and disseminate widely the importance of sustainable aquaculture. To achieve its goal, the GAA established the Responsible Aquaculture Program to "encourage the culture of safe, wholesome seafood in an environmentally and socially responsible manner" and for "the efficiency and long-term sustainability of the aquaculture industry". The Responsible Aquaculture Program began with the development of Guiding Principles for Responsible Aquaculture that state the direction of activities to be undertaken by companies and individuals engaged in aquaculture towards reaching environmental, economic and social sustainability. As part of the programme, the GAA also published Codes of Practice for Responsible Shrimp Farming, which provide technical guidance on shrimp farming and also include, in addition to ten Individual Codes of Practice, a Review of Responsible Shrimp Farming covering fundamentals of shrimp farming, environmental and social issues and management. Following the publication of the Codes of Practice, the GAA also developed a set of quantitative BAP standards for responsible shrimp farming.
The Codes of Practice were prepared (as stated on the GAA Web site) by Dr Claude Boyd and other members of a technical committee. Technical committees, one for each BAP standard, comprise technical experts and representatives of stakeholders interested in or impacted by the standards. Individuals and organizations to be involved in the technical committees are invited directly by the GAA, which targets having representatives from national industry associations (4), industry supplier associations (2), academic, regulatory or financial groups (2), conservation NGOs (2) and the GAA itself (2) within each technical committee. The role of the technical committees is to develop and review standards and to take into consideration comments submitted by stakeholders outside the committee. The cost for participation in committee meetings is covered by the committee members' themselves. A GAA standard development coordinator works with committee chairpersons to coordinate committee activities.
The assessment of conformity to BAP standards is conducted solely by the Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC), an organization with the mission of certifying aquaculture businesses that apply practices which ensure social and environmental responsibility, food safety and traceability. Until recently the link between the GAA and ACC was very strong, with the President of GAA also being on the board of directors of the ACC, although this is not the case anymore, indicating a trend towards increasing independence between the two organizations. The ACC operates by training and "accrediting" ACC certifiers worldwide. Certifiers can be self-employed individuals, company representatives, associations or institutions. It is also stated that ACC certifiers should be free from conflict of interests for their certification activities. Training courses for certifiers generally last five days and instruct participants on all the three sets of GAA BAP standards, i.e. for shrimp hatcheries, farms and processors. Certification is generally issued to individual businesses, although dialogue has been initiated to allow certification of farmers' groups, therefore facilitating access to the scheme by small-scale producers.48 The BAP trademark belongs to the GAA and is licensed to the ACC for use on BAP-certified facilities. The trademark can appear on retail packaging and, as such, products from BAP-certified establishments are recognizable to consumers.
Although the GAA/ACC scheme does not require certification throughout the supply chain (i.e. hatchery-farm-processor), a three-star label can be used for products that have been hatched, grown and processed in establishments complying with the GAA standards.
According to the ACC Web site, at present BAP-certified facilities include:
In addition to shrimp standards, the GAA also initiated activities towards the development of standards for tilapia, channel catfish and Pangasius fish.49 Standards are expected to be issued in September 2007 and within 2007 the ACC will start to certify tilapia, catfish and possibly Pangasius. The GAA expanded the scope of the shrimp-processing standards to other aquaculture commodities and standards are now been published in their draft form for comments.50 The GAA is also producing standards for feed mills which, when complete, will allow the development of four-star labels (i.e. for products that have been hatched, farmed, fed and processed in ACC-certified businesses).
The Shrimp Seal of Quality (SSOQ) was initiated in 2001 as part of the second phase of the USAID-funded Agro-based Industry and Technology Development Project (ATDP II). Originally intended to be implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, which co-funded the project,51 it eventually developed into a private sector initiative promoted mainly by project staff and shrimp processors.52 The SSOQ began with the development of BMP for shrimp farmers and continued with the development of standards applicable to every step in the shrimp supply chain including hatcheries, farms, processors, feed mills and traders. In addition, guidelines for the application of the standards to specific stakeholders (e.g. farmers, processors etc.) were also developed. SSOQ standards cover several sustainability aspects including food safety, quality assurance, traceability and environmental and social responsibility.
The establishment of the SSOQ certification scheme was also supported by the ACC through training courses and regular inputs provided to the development and implementation of the programme. At its peak the SSOQ involved almost 300 farmers, covering an area of almost 1 000 ha,53 although currently the programme is only marginally operational. In fact with the termination of USAID ATDP II, programme activities within the scheme were significantly reduced, although efforts supported by the WorldFish Center allowed the continuation of at least some aspects of the programme. The scheme is expected to be further supported through an additional five-year USAID-funded programme.
SalmonChile is the association of the Chilean salmon industry and includes all the main salmon producers and processors in Chile. Funded in 1986, SalmonChile's goal was to represent and unify the salmon industry's efforts on technical, legal, research, environmental and market aspects. It now includes 71 companies (of which 25 are producers), representing approximately 80 percent of the total national production. In response to market trends and international regulations, SalmonChile defined its mission as follows: "To make the Chilean Salmon Industry perceived by the domestic and international public opinion as a socially responsible industry, which produces a superior product with sustainable environmental and economical development". To this end, SalmonChile assigned the Salmon Technological Institute (INTESAL), SalmonChile's research institute, the task of developing a system for achieving the stated mission and therefore giving a competitive edge to the Chilean aquaculture industry. In 2002 INTESAL initiated the development of an Integrated Management System (SIGES), a management tool aimed at standardizing salmon production and processing systems in order to achieve fish health, quality, food safety, environmental sustainability and occupational safety and health. As part of SIGES, sets of regulations and standards for both producers and processors were developed and were included in the Manual of Regulations and Best Practices. Because of the focus of the Chilean aquaculture industry, SIGES is designed to be applicable especially to Chilean salmonid aquaculture. After SIGES development, INTESAL also undertook the role of managing the system, a role which is still ongoing.
INTESAL also developed a Manual of Audits, which sets the regulations and procedures to be followed during auditing. Companies willing to participate in the SIGES scheme are asked to perform internal audits following the SIGES standards, after which they undergo an external audit conducted by an independent organization. A number of CBs have been identified by INTESAL as suitable for assessing the degree of compliance of companies to SIGES standards, including SGS Chile Ltda, Bureau Veritas Quality International and IMO Chile S.A.
According to the SIGES Web site, 25 companies are currently associated with SIGES, of which 17 are actually participating in the programme.
The Scottish Salmon Producers' Organization (SSPO) is a newly expanded trade organization for the Scottish salmon industry responsible for supporting its members in addressing political, legal and technical issues. The new SSPO for the first time brought together salmon producers from different parts of Scotland (i.e. the Shetlands, the Orkneys and Western Isles and the mainland) and now includes 21 companies, as well as incorporating the Scottish Quality Salmon programme. As an entry requirement for membership in the SSPO, the association created the Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture (CoGP). The CoGP was developed by an industry-based CoGP Working Group in consultation with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations including the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and WWF Scotland in addition to local authorities and the public and sets the standards that SSPO members have to comply with. The CoGP is designed to address food safety, traceability, fish health, environmental protection and animal welfare. The SSPO CoGP sets standards for process, and not product, certification.
Farm auditing and reporting is coordinated by an industry-appointed Lead Certification Body approved by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). This role is now played by Food Certification Scotland (FCS). FCS was also appointed to conduct the initial inspection of all the farms willing to join the scheme in 2006, although farm audits are to be conducted by UKAS-approved inspection bodies chosen directly by farmers.
48 Boyd, C.E., Limsuwan, C. & Fegan, D. 2006. Working group recommends certification revisions for shrimp farm clusters. July/August 2006 Global Aquaculture Advocate.
49 DiPietro, B. 2006. GAA developing "responsible aquaculture" standards for salmon, tilapia, catfish. IntraFish www.intrafish.no/global/news/article119672.ece
50 George Chamberlain, GAA, personal communication.
51 Kabir, K. 2005. Shrimp Seal of Quality, integrated approach to addressing challenges of Bangladesh's shrimp industry. Presentation given at the World Bank/USAID Post IAMA Workshop, 29-30 June 2005, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
52 Glen Bieber, consultant to the ATDP II project, personal communication.
53 Bieber, G. 2005. SSOQ Farm Production Program.