Saturday, May 24, 2014

Statement by the undersigned members of the network CO on the ASC shrimp standard.

We continue our protest!

Hundreds of NGOs in Asia, Latin America, Africa, North America and Europe have been protesting for several years against WWF and the Shrimp Aquaculture Dialogue; its lack of concern for the environment and local peoples' livelihood, the dialogue process that did not involve local resource users nor the NGOs that support them as well as the weak standards that have been diluted in every new version including the ASC version

The conversion of mangroves and coastal zones into ponds for shrimp  Cultivation for the export industry has caused severe environmental destruction, depletion of coastal biodiversity and wild fisheries as well as  shoreline erosion. It increases susceptibility to hurricanes and tsunamis and releases massive quantities of carbon, thus contributing to climate change. The large scale use of fishmeal exacerbates all these problems. Coastal populations in tropical countries are severely affected by the loss of livelihood, food security and protection from storms. Protests are often met with human rights abuses. The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concludes that it is an economic loss for a country with shrimp farming in wetlands.  Open throughput farming methods are destructive and cannot be called “responsible”. The feed industry is destructive and more fish is used to feed the shrimp than the amount of shrimp that can be harvested, thus worsening food security.

The CO has just finished an in-depth analysis of the ASC shrimp standard. Each standard has been analysed and compared at various levels - e.g. what is being claimed to what is being audited. Also the various draft versions of the standard have been compared with the final ASC standard.
A few results in summary:
P1. Comply with all applicable national and local laws: The ASC certified shrimp does not require compliance with all applicable national and local laws nor international treaties. There is no specification on any laws to adhere to nor to audit.

P2. Site farms in environmentally suitable locations while conserving biodiversity and important natural ecosystems: Farms are allowed to operate inside the intertidal zone and in natural wetlands which can never be considered an environmentally suitable location.

P3. Develop and operate farms with consideration for surrounding communities: Those who have been displaced by shrimp farms are not addressed. Compliance cannot be verified as it depends on a fair p-SIA which will not be available with the audit report. The definition of conflict resolution is unacceptable.

P4. Operate farms with responsible labour practices. The standard only guarantees “minimum wage as applicable”.  But it does not address the vast majority of people working in the shrimp value chain like women and children who are shrimp hatchling collectors, hatchery workers, packers etc.

P5. Manage shrimp health and welfare in a responsible manner. The Principle deals with shrimp health and not food safety. It does not require any test for pesticide or antibiotics residues . It allows antibiotics in hatcheries.

P6. Manage broodstock origin, stock selection and effects of stock management: The miserable condition of women and children who collect wild PL is not addressed.

P7. Use resources in an environmentally efficient and responsible manner. The ASC standard allows the usage of forage-fish as shrimp feed which nullifies any claim on sustainability. Genetically modified ingredients are allowed in feed. Feed with soy from a previous rainforest area may be certified.

The CO network will continue to follow the ASC shrimp certification and its audit on the farms.

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