Seafood buyers are increasingly looking for ways to understand and reduce the environmental risks in their supply chains, notably in shrimp aquaculture. A new Coastal Habitat Mapping Tool by Clark Labs provides insights regarding habitat conversion which might answer that. Combining high quality satellite imagery and expert geospatial analysis, Clark Labs’ aquaculture mapping tool offers a look at historical landscape changes for critical wetlands habitats, including mangroves, and aquaculture pond cover in major shrimp exporting countries around the world.
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.
Mangroves are semi-aquatic plants that make up some of the most dynamic and complex ecosystems on our planet. Found along two-thirds of the planet’s tropical coastlines, they are an intricate network bridging life between land and sea. Mangrove forests are host to many rare, threatened, and iconic species and home to millions of people who depend on coastal ecosystems for food and livelihoods.
But this critical ecosystem is disappearing quickly. Since 1940, approximately half of global mangrove cover has been lost. During the 1970s-1990s, especially high rates of land conversion for shrimp farming may be accountable for 30-50% of this habitat loss.
Encouraged by long term WWF efforts, two of Chile’s leading salmon farming companies have announced, early June, their intention to discontinue all activities in the southern lakes of the country.
Los Fiordos, one of the major salmon producers, had previously suspended all operations in this freshwater system. Following their merger with Aquachile, they decided to maintain this commitment, and have publicly announced their move out of the lakes. A pledge that was matched by another key producer, Multiexport, which will also cease all production in the area by 2020.
Southern Chile’s pristine waters also support one of the largest farmed-salmon production hubs, supplying almost a third of all farmed salmon globally. The salmon industry in Chile employs more than 70,000 people with annual exports of more than $4 billion USD.
Seafood farming, or aquaculture, is one solution to help meet growing consumer demand for seafood products as 93% of wild fish stocks are fished to capacity or overfished and no longer able to support higher catches. Aquaculture may help alleviate pressure on wild fisheries, but farming practices can pose threats – like sea lice, microbial infections, antibiotic discharge, and other diseases – to delicately-balanced surrounding environments if operations are not managed responsibly.
The good news is that by implementing best practices seafood farming can be done more safely and with less impact on the environment and on local communities and workers.
In 2009, Sysco Corporation – one of the largest purchasers of seafood in North America – began working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to assess and improve the sustainability of its seafood supply chain. Through this collaboration, Sysco committed in 2011 to source its top 10 Portico® brand (Sysco’s own seafood brand) frozen and further-processed wild-caught seafood species from fisheries that were either certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, in full assessment for MSC certification or engaged in a comprehensive Fishery Improvement Project (FIP), by 2015.
Continuing its alliance with WWF, in 2016, Sysco committed to further improve the sustainability of its seafood procurement through 2020, incorporating additional elements to guide its seafood procurement practices and standards.
Stretching over 4,000km, Chile boasts one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. The rich waters around its fjords, channels and islands are home to unique species, including the blue whale – the largest animal to have ever existed.
Southern Chile also supports one of the world’s largest salmon industries, supplying almost a third of all farmed salmon. In Chile, the industry employs more than 70,000 people with annual exports worth around $4 billion. Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector for protein in the world, and in Chile, among other countries, that explosive growth has come with negative environmental and social implications.
By: Chef Lucas Glanville, Guest Contributor
Billions of people around the world rely on seafood for nutrition and livelihoods, but we are taking more from the oceans than can be replaced. This has serious impacts. As the global population and the demand for seafood grows, it will only become more difficult for communities around the world to have access to seafood.
What we put on our plate matters – tremendously. That’s why, as a chef, I have a responsibility to help shift fishing and farming practices and avoid the depletion of this important resource.
For consumers in Brazil, finding and buying local, sustainable seafood is no easy task.
As it stands, farmed tilapia is the only option for domestic, eco-certified seafood. There are no other domestic, eco-certified farms and fisheries in the country.
With so few local, certified products on the market, it is no surprise that Brazilian consumers are not as aware of seafood sustainability issues than those in other regions, such as the United States and Europe. But with a population approaching 210 million, Brazil is an increasingly critical market for sustainable seafood. That is why World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is working with foodservice giant Sodexo in Brazil to help the catering distributor’s buyers choose more sustainable options.
Shrimp is the most widely consumed seafood in the U.S. Yet for American consumers, responsibly produced shrimp is difficult to find.
That’s why news from India is noteworthy: One of India’s largest producers of farmed shrimp and a top exporter to the U.S., Falcon Marine has announced that, by 2020, all of its shrimp will be certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). India accounted for about 32% of America’s farmed shrimp imports in 2017, making it the number one source of farmed shrimp in the U.S.
- Mars Petcare Renews Commitment, Sets Marker for Sustainable Seafood Sourcing
- Bristol Bay is Still at Risk, Businesses Can Help Protect it Permanently
- A Year of Disruption Didn’t Deter Progress on Traceability Standards
- Track Your Farmed Shrimp with New Satellite Mapping Technology
- Sysco Announces 2025 Seafood Sustainability Commitment
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