Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production system in the world, and the trend is projected to continue. Although the industry provides an important opportunity to supplement the oceans’ food supply, it can also cause significant social and environmental impacts if managed improperly.
Many NGOs and civil society groups have raised concerns about the potential for untenable harm to water quality resulting from aquaculture, as well as the spreading of disease, and the promotion of unfair labor practices.
In 2008, WWF asked CBI to help coordinate a global consensus-based standard setting process that will result in scientific and credible social and environmental performance measures at the farm-site level.
CBI is now working with WWF’s coordinators to improve the quality of decision-making among stakeholders worldwide—including scientists, producers, civil society groups, and NGOs. By providing planning and facilitation services for numerous stakeholder meetings around the globe, CBI has supported six global aquaculture dialogues related to shrimp, salmon, pangasius, tilapia, shellfish, and trout.
Similar to other global standard setting work, the Aquaculture Dialogues begin with the premise that effective performance measures, supported by diverse stakeholders, can lead to environmentally and socially sustainable outcomes; answer a growing need for aquatic foods; and contribute to food security, poverty reduction, and economic development.
Several factors make this work both challenging and rewarding:
2009 is an important year in the Aquaculture Dialogue process. Several Dialogue species groups will be producing draft standards by December, and finalized by the summer of 2010.