Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) launched a new landscape-based aquaculture initiative to create the scale necessary for seafood buyers, processors and farmers to address the cumulative impacts of aquaculture, beyond the farm and the critical environmental and socio-economic challenges they face.
“Retailers and major buyers of seafood are looking for actionable solutions to have a positive impact,” said Braddock Spear, global policy director at SFP. “The time is now to link improved aquaculture production and sourcing to broader goals and positive impact on climate change, biodiversity and strengthening communities.”
Made possible by funding from the Walmart Foundation, SFP will initiate two new projects within its aquaculture programs. These include: 1) organizing market demand in support of more sustainable aquafeed and 2) building the foundation and roadmap for landscape-scale aquaculture improvement of farmed shrimp in Andhra Pradesh, India, in conjunction with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).
Increasingly, retailers are setting ambitious targets around climate change and biodiversity. Feed is typically the single biggest contributor to the carbon footprint of shrimp and salmon aquaculture. Many feed ingredients (e.g., fishmeal/oil, soy and grain) have direct biodiversity impacts, including overfishing and deforestation. This is driving increased attention and questions about aquaculture, particularly how improving feed inputs can help achieve these commitments.
“We have an exciting and unique opportunity to work with seafood buyers and supply chains to develop collaborative efforts around feed,” added Dave Martin, program director at SFP. “This project will allow us to engage industry to better understand, measure and reduce the environmental footprint of aquaculture feeds.”
SFP will focus on industry improvements and collective action to address aquaculture feed sourcing risks. Key products include an industry action toolkit to facilitate positive and aligned supply chain engagement on aquaculture feed sustainability. SFP will work with other leading NGOs and related initiatives to ensure consistency in advice and recommendations.
Currently, only about 24% of farmed shrimp from India is certified. As demand from international markets for certified product grows, there will be an urgent need to address sustainability issues at the landscape level, beyond what can be delivered through farm-level certification. At the same time, certification is often out of reach for most smallholder farmers. This project will seek to build strategies to engage smallholder farmers in improvements and certification. Working at a wider scale will enhance environmental benefits and can lead to production and management efficiencies.
“ASC brings world-class standards and a proven ability to work with local stakeholders. Our partnership with ASC allows us to provide comprehensive sustainability solutions to Indian shrimp production,” continued Spear. “With the motivated seafood buyers in SFP’s partnerships and our Asian Farmed Shrimp Supply Chain Roundtable, we will seek to harness market leverage and buying power to support on-the-ground improvements.”
SFP will work with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and shrimp supply chains to foster landscape-level improvements in Indian aquaculture. The goal is to identify farms, processors and other stakeholders within Andhra Pradesh to make verifiable improvement progress at a jurisdictional level. Using available tools and verification mechanisms, SFP and ASC will build stronger connections between production in this area and shrimp buyers and retailers.
“We at ASC have shared goals with SFP of driving more responsible seafood production, and this project provides us with a great opportunity to advance our objectives and untangle some of the barriers often experienced in aquaculture improvement projects,” said Jill Swasey, head of monitoring and evaluation at ASC. “Our work together will allow us to demonstrate our collective positive impact as we connect on-farm improvements to verified progress at landscape levels.”
In April 2023, SFP and ASC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance responsible aquaculture production. The MoU creates the path for the two organizations to innovate and scale their efforts in the aquaculture improvement space.
“The Improver Programme by ASC offers a structured and transparent roadmap for shrimp farmers to implement the requirements of the ASC Standards,” said Roy van Daatselaar, ASC Improver Programme global lead. “On top of that, we work with partners to develop scalable solutions that address impacts beyond farm level. We are thrilled to be working with SFP on designing landscape-level improvement pathways that the market can endorse to enable the sustainable transformation of the sector for shrimp farmers in Andhra Pradesh.”