Thursday, March 8, 2018

09/03/2018: Tilapia: miracle fish

by Ramon Kourie, Chief Technical Officer, SustAqua Fish Farms (Pty) Ltd.,

We all thought the sustainable seafood movement was limited to the EU and North American markets. Not so.

The Global Seafood Ratings Alliance (GSRA) brings together 13 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the globe each focused on improving the health of the world’s oceans and the fisheries they support by implementing programs that rate and promote sustainable seafood products. 

Image credit: Alexandra Tyers on Flickr
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

The sustainable seafood movement is gaining traction outside of North America and the EU markets in South America, the Middle East, Australasia, South Africa and the greater part of Asia among more formal markets, supermarket multiples and restaurant chains.

A common theme among seafood rating NGOs is the promotion of seafood consumer guides. These typically provide a list of best or recommended choices, best alternatives or lets “think twice”, and lastly an avoid list of fish species and/or sources guiding consumers away from unsustainable seafood choices. The “Seafood Watch Program” in the US and the “Good Fish Guide”, an initiative of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in the UK, have in addition embraced a more holistic approach in their seafood rating guides to include food safety and consumer protection, animal welfare and violations of labour standards through third party sustainably produced and responsibly farmed certification(s). The most prominent certification schemes include the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and GLOBALG.A.P. Supplemented by Friend of the Sea add-on labelling.

Globalisation and a wave of negative publicity in the net pen salmon farming sector in Canada and Chile, i.e. stock escapes, habitat damage, water pollution and algal blooms, has spilled over affecting the ratings of tilapia cage farming in the tropics. The Good Fish Guides advisory to consumers in the UK for instance is to make sure the tilapia they buy are Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified or originate from more sustainable Recirculation Aquaculture Systems (RAS). Sustainably forms the cornerstone of the “Good Fish Guide” guided by production methods which reduce negative environmental impacts (e.g. discharges, escapes, transfer of disease and parasites, habitat damage and water pollution or degradation) associated with other culture systems such as open net pen/cage culture and pond systems.

Similarly, farmed tilapias raised in Recirculation Aquaculture Systems (RAS) worldwide have been ranked “Best Choice” by the Seafood Watch, an initiative of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which aims to help consumers and businesses make ocean-friendly seafood choices using science-based recommendations.

Read the full article, HERE.

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