Miao Weimin, APFIC Secretariat
65. Miao Weimin provided a review of older and newer environmental and social certification schemes in fisheries. Based on this review, the presenter considered the hypothetical and actual evidence for the demand for and benefits of such initiatives. Related costs were also discussed and it was noted that there are few studies and very little quantitative evidence published on the financial costs or the benefits of certification or branding schemes, but this lack of evidence is even more pronounced when it comes to an assessment of the net benefits. There is some evidence that the conditions attached to certified fisheries do encourage improved institutional structures and operational practices, but to date these are largely restricted to established, well-managed fisheries.
66. The presenter summarized the available reports and papers that have highlighted the potential problems faced by developing country producers in engaging with certification before presenting some possible solutions. It was noted that there is no magic formula to determine whether it is sensible for particular products or fisheries to undertake certification initiatives. The net benefits are likely to be too specific to the particular country and product concerned, the end market, and the characteristics of the supply chain. Generalizing about the actual costs and benefits is neither possible nor advisable. The presenter made some suggestions about how to conduct cost–benefit analyses, using a simple decision-making tree. Some refinement of these tools will be needed for later use and it is suggested that a few pilot cases might provide some indications of how this might be done. This will also provide some practical assistance to the countries concerned in making decisions about the feasibility of certification or branding for particular products or fisheries.
Jesper Clausen, APFIC Secretariat
67. Mr Clausen briefly described the present status of aquaculture in Asia and how the sector is linked to certification. It was noted that there was an increasing demand for seafood because of population growth and the focus on fish as healthy food, but there also were consumer concerns over production methods. Given the projected world population growth, an additional 40 million tonnes of aquatic food will be required by 2030 just to maintain the current consumption level per person. Aquaculture is expected to produce much of this increase in fishery products. This will of course be important for APFIC member countries as 90 percent by volume and 78 percent by value of the world’s aquaculture production is now produced in Asia and the production is increasing in many countries. Aquaculture now accounts for almost 50 percent of the global food fish production. The presenter covered the challenges of how aquaculture certification can be adapted for small-scale producers that predominate in the APFIC region. In particular, it was emphasized that producers in the region should be closely involved in standard setting and that regional schemes could be a way to facilitate farmer entry.
Pham Trong Yen, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam
68. APFIC Members requested the APFIC secretariat to look at the opportunities and challenges presented to Asia and the Pacific region by labelling and certification. APFIC together with the Government of Viet Nam therefore held a regional consultative workshop on “Certification of fisheries and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region” held in Ho Chi Minh City from 18 to 20 September 2007. At the workshop it was recommended that national and regional initiatives for certification of aquaculture will follow the forthcoming international FAO guidelines for aquaculture certification and other international guidelines as appropriate. Other recommendations were: that the inclusion of small-scale producers and the recognition of traditional production methods in certification schemes should be encouraged; that access to markets for certified fish products in developing countries should be investigated and facilitated; certification schemes should be considered not only to promote South-North trade but also to support South-South trade and national markets; that regional or national flexible labelling and certification schemes — social, environmental, ecological, or cultural — that are built upon the comparative advantage of Asian aquaculture (e.g. traditional knowledge, sustainable fishing methods and unique fishery products) should be developed and it was noted that the involvement of small-scale producers in the region is of crucial importance; regional involvement in setting the certification standards should be continued and improved where possible and communication and information sharing between producers and consumers should be improved.
Sudari Pawiro, INFOFISH
69. The presenter gave an overview of global fishery production which reached 145 million tonnes in 2007 (excluding seaweeds), with around 37 percent of the total traded in international markets. As the supply of and demand for fish and fishery products have increased, global trade has also grown consistently reaching US$86 billion (export, FOB value) in 2006, with developing countries contributing around 50 percent of the total. Asia was an important seafood supplier exporting around US$29.1 billion (33 percent). Global seafood trade, however, slowed down towards the end of 2007 and this trend has continued into 2008. This is because of the rising fuel and food prices affecting consumers. Moreover, the global seafood trade is currently facing tremendous challenges and issues that affect the competitiveness and export of fishery products from developing countries. Among the issues faced by the industry are: sustainability; proliferation of private ecolabels and a growing number of certification schemes that in some cases lead to increasing production costs, increasing trade disputes and the growing influence by multinational chain retailers; failure in the WTO-Doha round negotiation resulting in the expansion of free trade agreements and regional trade agreements; rising production costs and issues related to safety and traceability.
Sena De Silva, Director-General NACA
70. The presenter mentioned the FAO and NACA work on developing guidelines for aquaculture certification. The process has been ongoing for the last two years with stakeholder meetings in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the United States. Stakeholders from all links in the value chain have been present at these stakeholder meetings. The final draft of the FAO guidelines for aquaculture certification will be presented at the fourth meeting of the COFI-AQ from 6 to 10 October 2008 in Puerta Varas, Chile. The small-scale farmers are a concern for NACA and for the region. Most aquaculture production comes from small-scale farmers and this large group of people should be part of the development of certification standards and its input should equal its contribution. Small-scale operations are characterized as: (i) users of small land and water areas; (ii) family-scale operations/businesses often using family labor; and (iii) operations based on family land. More than 80 percent of an estimated 12 million aquaculture farmers in Asia are considered to be small-scale aquaculturists.