IFFO attends 10th Seafood Summit

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Organised by Seaweb, an NGO dedicated to bringing together conservation groups and industry, the Summit represents the biggest forum for discussions on sustainability both in the wild capture and aquaculture sectors. The event is organised into plenary sessions for all delegates to hear key note speakers, then parallel sessions where delegates can choose to attend presentations on a range of subjects, depending on their own areas of interest.

This year, IFFO were invited to moderate a panel on the responsible supply of fishmeal in South East Asia – a subject of increasing interest given the growth of aquaculture in the region. Our panel consisted of Hugo Contreras from Cargill, Duncan Leadbitter from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Cui He from the China Aquatic Products  and Processing Marketing Alliance and Maggie Xu, IFFO China Manager. The speakers provided a feed company perspective to responsible sourcing, statistics on the regional aquaculture market, some of the projects to improve fishery management and how the IFFO RS standard is being used to provide assurance to buyers that fishmeal can be sourced responsibly.

Aquaculture is now overtaking wild capture fisheries as the worlds largest supply of fish. In the past, the Summit has concentrated on capture fisheries but this trend is now raising the profile of fish farming and the supply of responsibly sourced feed is being seen as a key consideration.

Other messages from the Summit were that sustainability is an integral part of big business in the sector – several large international retailers and brand owners were represented and featured on several panel discussions, confirming their commitment to responsible sourcing for both environmental and social/ethical impacts. Concerns about Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing were covered, as were the problems of forced labour and human rights in the fishing industry.

The importance of government involvement was another feature as little can be done to improve fishery management without government support.

While the drive towards more responsible sourcing has been mainly from western markets, the location of the Summit attracted several Asian businesses, politicians and conservation groups and we can expect these markets to follow the trend seen in Europe and the USA.

The drive towards responsible sourcing takes leadership and is often hard to justify from a direct profit perspective. Responsible sourcing can cost more but increasing numbers of large businesses are seeing the benefits to their reputation and continuity of business by committing to long term sustainability.

Maggies presentation can be downloaded here and many of the presentations are available for download by visiting the Summit website www.seafoodsummit.org/program