Agriculture and Environment: Shrimp

Better Management Practices: Third-Party-Certified Eco-labels

One way to improve the overall performance of the industry and reduce harmful environmental impacts is to develop a BMP-based third-party certification program for shrimp aquaculture.

If such a program is based on BMPs, then consumers of shrimp in developed countries can help to finance the cost of conversion to better practices.


Strict compliance to certification standards
Since most ecological certification (eco-labels) for products currently requires that producers obey all relevant local laws, government enforcement of local laws could be strengthened by international consumers of the product through third-party programs that require compliance (and perhaps pay a higher price) as a condition of shrimp certification.

Product quality issues have led to increased interest in certification and eco-label systems in general and for shrimp in particular. As of 2002, there were 6 such systems either in place or in development (Clay 2002 makes a side-by-side comparison of these programs).

While these programs are based on the same principles-broadly speaking, to make shrimp aquaculture more sustainable - few actually back up their claims with measurable results (Clay 2002).

More awareness in consumers
Furthermore, nearly all certify production processes and not the final product. Most consumers are more concerned about the final product, as that is what they actually eat, so they are far more interested in chemical residues than water exchange rates or food conversion ratios.

Wide multistakeholder participation
In the future, such eco-labels could lead to consumer confusion and even backlash. There is a need to develop a BMP-based shrimp aquaculture certification program that delivers on its claims. In addition, the program should be created through wide multistakeholder participation, should be transparent, and needs to be overseen by a third party. Finally, it should test and stand by the final product.

Credits

Extracts from "World Agriculture & Environment" by Jason Clay - buy the book online from

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