Wednesday, March 11, 2015

11/03/2015: The Aquafeed Interview

Wally Stevens is acting director of the Global Aquaculture Alliance as well as the executive director of the Responsible Aquaculture Foundation. A 35-year veteran of the seafood industry, Wally Stevens continues to help expand the Best Aquaculture Practices certification program and related educational efforts on responsible aquaculture. Previously, Stevens was president of Ocean Products and U.S. based Slade Gorton & Co. He also helped establish the National Fisheries Institute Future Leaders program. The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. Through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards, GAA has become the leading standards-setting organisation for aquaculture seafood.

What is the mission behind Global Aquaculture Alliance?
GAA is a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote education and training in support of responsible aquaculture. GAA further recognises that aquaculture is the only sustainable means of increasing seafood supply to meet the needs of the world population. Our mission is to promote our best aquaculture practices programme. GAA encourages the use of responsible production systems that are sustainable regarding environmental and community needs. There is much exciting work to be undertaken in this growing industry.

What are the main challenges facing the aquaculture industry?
Firstly it is clear that we are going to have to be in a position to provide food sustainably for a growing population. The main challenges are currently disease management, feed supply, and investor support, ensuring that no harm is done to the environment and that we are socially responsible. Secondly, that the marketplace appreciates and expects that the aquaculture industry will develop and perform in light of these challenges. The marketplace will need to ensure that their expectations are in line with such problems that we need to address.

Regarding feed ingredients, what are the challenges that need to be addressed?
The demand for feed ingredients has doubled in the last two decades. With regards to fishmeal, we cannot continue to keep using the same ingredients going forward at this point in time. We must look for a substitute for fishmeal or look for ways to extend the current supply. Currently the demand for fishmeal from certified fisheries around the world means that we do not have enough to support growth in aquaculture.

What were the main challenges and issues in aquaculture addressed at this year’s GOAL conference in Vietnam?
Six major issues emerged at GOAL 2014 — Disease risk management (including early mortality syndrome in shrimp), the potential of zone management, aqua feed sustainability, leadership and innovation, marketplace accessibility, and consumer education.

Currently, what is the number one challenge affecting aquaculture's growth?
In my opening remarks at GOAL 2014 I asked an audience of more than 400 seafood professionals, via the conference’s audience response system, “What’s the No. 1 challenge limiting aquaculture’s growth?” To no surprise, given early mortality syndrome’s devastating effect on global shrimp production, health and disease management garnered nearly half of the audience’s vote. One speaker projected global shrimp production to total around 4 million metric tons in 2016. It would have totaled close to 4.5 million tons had EMS not existed. So health and disease management is clearly the No. 1 challenge affecting aquaculture’s growth.

However, 13 percent of the audience selected “consumer education” as the No. 1 challenge facing aquaculture, outscoring environmental and social responsibility at 11 percent, feed and investment capital at 9 percent each, leadership at 6 percent and market support at 4 percent. What’s surprising is that just moments before I posed the question I added “consumer education” as the seventh major challenge facing aquaculture. Yet the audience’s response to such a poignant question is proof that the industry still has a lot of work to do to familiarise consumers with farmed seafood.

How does GAA's Best Aquaculture Practices Programme Certification help to promote 'responsible practices' across the aquaculture industry?
Best Aquaculture Practices is an international certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved global performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain — farms, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills. What sets BAP apart from the competition is 1) the concept of continual improvement (BAP standards are constantly strengthened and expended) and 2) the comprehensiveness of the program (the program covers environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal welfare and health and traceability, and BAP standards for zone management are in the very early stages of development). Here’s a summary of the five elements of the BAP program:
Environmental responsibility - At the hatchery, farm, feed and processing levels, BAP-certified facilities must comply with standards that address such issues as habitat conservation, water quality and effluents.
Social Responsibility - BAP-certified facilities must comply with local laws for worker safety, child labor and community rights at the hatchery, farm, feed and processing levels.
Food Safety - Standards for food safety help ensure that no banned antibiotics or other chemicals are used during production and that all approved chemical treatments are carried out in a responsible fashion. Random samples of finished product are analysed by certified laboratories for bacterial contamination and antibiotic residues to verify that control processes are effective. The BAP seafood processing plant standards are benchmarked against the latest Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) food-safety requirements.
Animal health and welfare - Standards for animal welfare cover a wide spectrum of best practices in animal husbandry, including health and welfare from cultivation to harvest (such as disease control, growing conditions and transportation). BAP standards emphasise humane treatment throughout the life cycle.
Traceability - Supply chain traceability from the source to the marketplace is mandated by the BAP program before a facility can apply the BAP mark.

Read the magazine HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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