Salmon aquaculture leaders meet to begin process of revising draft salmon standards
The Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue met in Saint John, New Brunswick this week to discuss draft standards to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the salmon aquaculture industry, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Aquaculture Stewardship Council.
Approximately 90 people-including representatives from environmental organizations and first nations, salmon producers, retailers, fishermen and scientists from the world's most prominent salmon farming regions-discussed feedback on the standards received by 53 organizations during the first comment period for the standards, held from August to October.
"We've come a long way to create the standards," said Mary Ellen Walling of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, a member of the nine-person Steering Committee that manages the Dialogue process. "The committee received a significant amount of relevant comments during the first public comment period. The open discussions around these comments during the Dialogue meeting in Saint John will help us revise the standards and wrap up the process."
Among the key issues discussed at the meeting were how to ensure that ecosystem health is addressed in a farm-based standard, making sure the standards are clear and can be audited, and balancing complexity and cost of the standard with the need to have meaningful environmental and social measurements.
After incorporating input from the meeting in Saint John and completing several sections in the document, the draft standards will be posted for the last comment period. Final standards are expected by mid-2011.
"There are many challenging issues in creating a standard for salmon farming," said salmon Dialogue steering committee member Jay Ritchlin of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, "This meeting gave us valuable feedback on how to move forward."
Numerous multi-day Dialogue meetings geared toward sharing information and shaping the standards have been held in key salmon producing regions - including Norway, Chile, Scotland and British Columbia. Also, feedback was provided during public comment periods held in 2008 and 2009 to vet the draft principles, criteria and indicators, as well as outreach meetings over the last several years with salmon farming stakeholders. Experts assisted, as needed, in evaluating salmon-related science to help shape the draft standards.
After being finalized, the standards will be held by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and amended periodically to reflect changes in science and technology, as well as to encourage innovation and continuous improvement.
The Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue is driven by a Steering Committee that includes representatives from Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, Fundación Terram, Marine Harvest, Norwegian Seafood Federation, Pew Environment Group, SalmonChile, Skretting, and WWF.