WWF and GlobalGap partner a course to aquaculture certification
Food standard certifier GLOBALGAP recently announced it will offer an expansion to its program so aquaculture producers can be certified in one step for implementing practices that help ensure the production of safe food in conjunction with environmentally and socially responsible farming.
GLOBALGAP will do so by supplementing its existing food safety, environmental and social requirements with the metrics-based environmental and social standards under development by the Aquaculture Dialogues. The Dialogue standards are being created by approximately 2,000 producers, NGOs, scientists and other stakeholders from around the world. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) coordinates the Dialogue process.
“We are thrilled that GLOBALGAP will offer a voluntary add-on module to its existing standards,” said WWF-US Aquaculture Program Managing Director Jose Villalon. “The Dialogue standards will add value to the GLOBALGAP program because they are metrics-based, which is the best way to accurately measure if aquaculture’s impacts on the environment are minimized.”
The Dialogue standards are being created by consensus through an open and transparent process that involves a broad and diverse group of stakeholders. The first set of standards – for tilapia – is expected to be completed in September 2009. Standards for 11 additional species will be finalized over the next year.
“This move is a win for producers because it will help streamline the certification process for them, by offering a one-stop shop audit using the high integrity of the GLOBALGAP system to provide an efficient and cost effective certification process,” said GLOBALGAP Chairman Nigel Garbutt.
“It also is a win for retailers who would like to see a harmonization of the various certification programs on the market. This partnership is significantly different from other partnerships, because robust but separate standards are being offered in combination with each other.”
The WWF/GLOBALGAP partnership, formalized in a memorandum of understanding signed today, is a means to certify producers prior to the creation of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) in 2011. The ASC, a new independent organization, will be responsible for working with third party entities to certify farms that are in compliance with the Dialogue standards. WWF and several other entities, including the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative, are taking the lead in creating the ASC.
At the time of the establishment of the ASC, the boards of the ASC and GLOBALGAP will assess whether and how to continue the partnership.
The WWF/GLOBALGAP partnership is non-exclusive, which means other entities could certify producers who adopt the standards prior to the start-up of the ASC, as long as those entities meet the criteria for standards-holding entities established by WWF. All certification prior to the creation of the ASC will be business-to-business. The ASC certification will be business-to-consumer by providing a consumer label.
As part of this partnership, WWF will work with GLOBALGAP to create checklists, guidance documents and training materials for auditors who will certify aquaculture producers. This work will be completed by the end of 2009, when GLOBALGAP is expected to begin offering the new certification option to producers.