From pond to shelf, farmed shrimp goes through a complex supply chain made up of thousands of actors. Data about its farm and country of origin, species, embedded environmental impact, and conditions of production can be easily lost along the way. Compelled by consumer and investor demand for better transparency, retailers are beginning to realize the need for full end-to-end traceability systems to ensure they can track products and feed ingredients back to their source.
Future-Proofing Farmed Shrimp Production
With $32 billion in trade, farmed shrimp is one of the most valuable traded seafood commodities in the world. Global farmed shrimp production has risen dramatically over the past several decades, with production surpassing 5 million metric tons in 2018, and it is expected to increase further as global seafood demand grows.
While this growth has generated substantial export value for many developing countries, the pressure of rapid increase in production has also resulted in degradation and depletion of critical natural habitats and biodiversity loss, and it has been linked to instances of forced labor and human rights abuses. Complexity that hinders traceability and transparency in both farmed shrimp and feed supply chains has led to reputational, legal, financial, and regulatory risks for businesses.
WWF believes there is a strong opportunity to stop these trends and halt negative impacts by leveraging private sector influence, and there are concrete steps that companies can take to ensure farmed shrimp products come from more environmentally and socially responsible sources. Safeguarding our ecosystems, securing labor and human rights, and driving transformation of this industry can be achieved through strong corporate leadership, private sector collaboration, and leveraging technological best practices.
IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING RISKS TO BUSINESS
The business case for supply chain action is clear. There is a growing expectation by consumers and stakeholders for businesses to lead the way on improving farmed shrimp supply chains and mitigating social, legal, financial, and regulatory risks.
A BLUEPRINT FOR MORE RESPONSIBLY FARMED SHRIMP
Investing in more responsibly farmed shrimp can help companies demonstrate leadership and produce results that will change the future course for the better. Addressing the persistent issues in shrimp production isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also smart for business. WWF has identified five key areas that form a Blueprint for Future-Proofing Shrimp Supply Chains for companies to take up this challenge by 2025.
WHAT COMPANIES CAN DO
End buyers are the external face of food supply chains and consequently inherit the accumulated risks of supply chain partners. Ensuring future value requires buyers to take a leadership role within supply chains, collaborating with partners to set commitments, take action, and demonstrate progress to reduce risks, guarantee sustainable product supply, and increase efficiency and profitability – all while protecting people and the planet.
1. SET COMMITMENTS
Make a public commitment to source responsibly farmed shrimp
Make a public commitment to source responsibly farmed shrimp that is traceable to the source farm, free from deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems after the cutoff date of May 1999, and produced in a manner that protects labor and human rights throughout supply chains.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands like mangroves and their resources. Almost 90% of UN member states, including the US and the EU, are signatories to this legally binding treaty. In May 1999, member countries passed a resolution calling for the suspension of aquaculture activities that are harmful to coastal wetlands. The aquaculture sector and leading seafood certifications have adopted this as the cut-off date after which no conversion of natural habitat is allowed.
2. TAKE ACTION
Engage in precompetitive platforms
Join precompetitive platforms to leverage industry momentum and tools for stronger oversight and faster transition towards more sustainable and responsible seafood. A leading example is the Seafood Task Force, an industry-led initiative formed in 2014 to address human rights and environmental issues for farmed shrimp, fishmeal, and wild-caught tuna. The Task Force is currently working in Thailand and planning to expand its efforts to Vietnam, India, and Indonesia.
The Seafood Task Force is one of the most influential and diverse coalition of stakeholders operating in Thailand on this issue. The platform has successfully mapped buyer supply chains, implemented track and trace systems to provide visibility, engaged with government and industry to upgrade codes of conduct and legislation, and supported the formation of fishery improvement projects (FIPs).
Source seafood certified by leading standards
Sourcing shrimp from farms that are certified by leading standards such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) provides assurance that a product was produced in accordance with leading environmental and social practices.
To become ASC certified, a farm must meet strict performance standards for environmental and social responsibility, including fair labor practices and a prohibition on conversion of mangroves or other wetlands. By getting certified, aquaculture producers reduce their impacts on the environment and the communities they work with and can tap into the growing national and global markets for responsibly produced seafood.
Ensure seafood products have strong traceability
Use available technologies to demonstrate a product is fully traceable to its source and require suppliers to do the same. Open source, publicly available tools enable companies to map their supply chains, identify risks, and trade with increased assurance that products are produced responsibly and in line with corporate values.
TruTrace is an open-source, cloud-based smartphone app and web portal designed to automate and digitize product traceability data across complex supply chains. The system allows disaggregated participants (e.g. fisherman and farmers) in the supply chain to capture images, add key data elements, and link their product information to their suppliers and customers, providing an organized and interactive map for users.
Clark Labs Coastal Habitat Mapping tool identifies the ecosystem impacts of farmed shrimp operations by systematically cataloging mangrove land-use change over time. When combined with supply chain traceability data such as source farm geographic coordinates, this can help companies confirm whether their farmed shrimp product may have contributed to wetland/mangrove habitat loss since 1999.
3. DEMONSTRATE PROGRESS
Make sustainable seafood commitments, as well as information regarding the environmental and social performance of seafood products, public, and report each year on progress towards specific goals. Strengthening accountability systems can substantially improve the performance of all actors across the supply chain.