GAA Statement on WWF-Global Gap Linkage

Ahead of the pack: best aquaculture practices meet the needs of the marketplace today.
By Wally Stevens, GAA Executive Director
July 15, 2009

GAA Statement on WWF-Global Gap Linkage
Ahead of the pack: best aquaculture practices meet the needs of the marketplace today
By Wally Stevens, GAA Executive Director

As the global leader in the development of science-based aquaculture standards, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) supports any effort to advance the development of responsible aquaculture.

For more than a decade, through its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program, GAA has been advocating responsible aquaculture. Indeed, during the last seven of those years, GAA has led the way in the creation of science-based standards. 

Our BAP facility certification program is the only comprehensive certification system available today that includes all of the key components of responsible aquaculture. In many respects, the BAP program has become the standard for the whole supply chain — including retailers and foodservice operators who want one comprehensive approach that covers the environment, social responsibility, animal welfare, food safety and traceability.

It is from this standpoint that we view the recently announced alliance between GLOBALGAP and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which — at some point in the future — will offer the existing GLOBALGAP standard with an optional, yet-to-be-defined, WWF “add-on.” The announcement of this alliance follows another recent one linking WWF with the SQF (Safe Quality Food) program. 

Our work with retailers in particular has shown us that they want the “one-stop shop” that BAP provides — not an approach of having to patch together various programs that cover only a portion of what BAP offers:
1. BAP standards are science-based. They include metrics, particularly for environmental impacts. They cover farms, hatcheries and processing plants, and will soon be complemented by feed mill standards. No other certification scheme is this comprehensive. 
2. The certification process, which assures that aquaculture facilities comply with BAP standards, is managed by the highly respected Aquaculture Certification Council (ACC). The ACC draws on a pool of highly experienced aquaculture auditors, all of whom have been specially trained. To strengthen the independence of the auditing process even further, ACC is starting to delegate this task to ISO 65-compliant bodies, with the first shrimp farm to be inspected via this process in July.

3. The BAP program has already certified more shrimp, tilapia and catfish than any other system, and it will soon have standards for Pangasius and salmon, as well. The BAP program goes beyond standard-setting. Only BAP offers educational and training programs to help government agencies and small producers in developing countries improve their practices. In recognition of the quality of the program, BAP has been selected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to participate in its food safety pilot program on shrimp imports. In addition, the BAP standards and certification system have recently filed for benchmarking with the Global Food Safety Initiative.
We are at an important juncture in global aquaculture. 

From the beginning, GAA has made the decision to work with all industry stakeholders to bring the ethos of responsible aquaculture development to as many producers as possible. To do this, we have created standards that are rigorous and comprehensive, and we have created a system to certify compliance using independent, experienced and fully credentialed auditors. 

Above and beyond these facts, however, we also know that the needs of the marketplace are constantly evolving. What we believe today is that the whole supply chain — and in particular those businesses that have direct contact with the consumer — is seeking one credible and comprehensive standard. 

The supply chain seeks a single program that not only covers it all, but “says it all”:  Environment, social responsibility, animal welfare, food safety and traceability. Only one program represents the most rigorous standards for aquaculture based on science and based on metrics: BAP.

That being said, we look forward to the contribution of other standard-setting bodies that are interested, as are we, in expanding the supply of responsible, sustainable aquaculture. We look forward to future collaboration with GLOBALGAP as outlined in our agreement with the body earlier this year. In the meantime, BAP is available today, and we believe the market welcomes a solution for which it does not have to wait.

See story: WWF and GlobalGap partner a course to aquaculture certification