Shrimp dominates aquaculture, both in terms of volume and risk. Farming shrimp around the world provides nutrition and livelihoods for millions of people, yet it’s also associated with environmental and social harm, from water pollution to forced labor.
Shrimp aquaculture leaders in Ecuador have taken an important step forward, however, with the creation of the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership. Together, they have committed to achieving and promoting more sustainable and responsible shrimp farming. To achieve this mission, the SSP has outlined strict criteria all members must meet, including:
- Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification
- Zero antibiotics
- Full traceability
- Minimal environmental impact, measured through an assessment of water quality
“Up until this point the shrimp sector has been a commodity market, and quality has often taken a back seat to prices,” said José Antonio Camposano, Executive President, National Chamber of Aquaculture from Ecuador. “But there are consumers who want more choice. Consumers who care about what they eat, and how it has been produced, and it is time they were offered a choice of farmed shrimp that meets the highest standards and is fully traceable to its origins. Shrimp grown by producers who are care, for consumers who care.”
Speaking of the launch at the Seafood Expo North America, Michael Gilmore, PhD, director of Harvard University’s Infectious Disease Institute, and principle investigator of the its Program on Antibiotic Resistance said: “This level of industry commitment in removing antibiotics from food production is a highly significant step in preserving the utility of drugs we have and reducing the likely spread of resistance. This is the direction we need to see all food sectors taking.”
In addition to improving industry standards, the SSP is also looking to drive industry-wide improvements through the following activities:
- Establishing a Sustainability Leadership Roundtable – influencing the future of shrimp aquaculture, the SSP will be working in collaboration with other companies, stakeholders, and NGOs to support and implement industry-wide improvements.
- Leading an Industry Scale Up Program. SSP will engage World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and ASC to help small and mid-sized farms improve their practices.
- Driving Consumer Awareness. Creating product differentiation, SSP will work to increase consumer awareness of and reward the preferential environmental and social practices of SSP members.
“The SSP has set ambitious targets,” said Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Markets and Food, WWF. “Achieving ASC and ensuring full traceability will be no easy feat, but their recognition for what is necessary in today’s changing food market landscape sets them apart from many and will have impacts on the whole seafood sector.”