A coalition of indigenous rights’ groups and grassroots environmental organizations will oppose the World Wildlife Fund’s move to improve environmental stewardship of the aquaculture industry through a certification system.
WWF last week announced the founding of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to establish a certification system for fish and seafood farms. ASC will devise environmental standards for “11 aquaculture species that have the greatest impact on the environment, highest market value and/or the heaviest trading in the global market”, including salmon, shrimp, trout, pangasius, abalone, mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, cobia and Seriola.
The coalition opposes the certification system on the grounds that it will both fail to remedy the environmental problems with industrial aquaculture and exclude from the decision-making process local communities who are most damaged by the industry.
“We see the ASC as yet another attempt by a Big International NGO to formulate some ill-conceived plan to remedy the problems of unsustainable industrial shrimp farming,” said a statement issued by the network of international groups. “These kinds of remedies do not involve the local communities and grassroots movements in the process of defining steps to be taken, and therefore exclude those peoples most affected by the industry’s ongoing assaults as readily evidenced in such locations as Lampung, Indonesia or Muisne, Ecuador, in Khulna, Bangladesh or Choluteca, Honduras.”
“We believe that these attempts at certification are funder and industry driven, and do not allow the voice of the majority of affected rightsholders – local communities and indigenous peoples – to have meaningful input into this so-called “dialogue” and standard-setting process,” the statement continued.
“As well, the proposed standards that will define the Aquaculture Stewardship Council are largely based upon supporting an unsustainable, open throughput system of aquaculture production, and not upon a more sustainable closed production approach, indicating that the proposed ASC’s process is aimed in an inappropriate and environmentally dangerous direction.”
The coalition called for WWF to abandon the iniative and “immediately initiate real and meaningful dialogues with affected communities, not just with industry and a few NGOs and academics.”
The coalition includes the Mangrove Action Project, Asia Solidarity Against Industrial Aquaculture (ASIA), the African Mangrove Network RedManglar, and the Forest Peoples Programme, among others.
Shrimp farms and other types of aquaculture have been linked by scientists and environmentalists to destruction of wetlands, mangroves, and coastal forests; pollution; introduction of invasive species; depletion of local fisheries; and land seizures.