At UN meeting States accept measures for environmentally friendly shrimp farming

Some 50 countries attending a United Nations meeting on aquaculture have welcomed a series of non-binding international principles for responsible shrimp farming which offer guidance on how to reduce its environmental damage while boosting its ability to alleviate poverty.Shrimp farming is often criticized for its environmental impacts, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)), which organized the event, but millions of small-scale producers in the world’s poorest countries, who produce 99 per cent of the world’s farmed shrimp, depend on it for their livelihoods. Consumer demand in northern markets is at record highs, and shrimp exports from the developing world run to the tune of $8.7 billion a year, the agency said.An FAO meeting in New Delhi last week produced general consensus that the principles should be relied upon as a global point of reference for aquaculture policy and development.The principles touch on a number of environment-related issues, including the location of farms and their design, the use of resources like water and feed, as well as the social impacts of aquaculture on local communities.Drawn up in a five-year consultative process involving several partner organizations, including the Network for Aquaculture Centres for the Asia Pacific, WWF, the World Bank and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), the new principles represent the first-ever attempt to provide an overarching international framework for improving the sustainability of the shrimp farming industry.“We hope that these new principles will help pave the way for a more common vision of how we should define responsible shrimp farming, globally,” said Rohana Subasinghe, a senior aquaculture expert at FAO and Secretary of the Sub-Committee.“They can also serve as a point of reference for governments, non-governmental organizations and private industry who are developing systems to certify farm-raised shrimp as eco-friendly or sustainable, or who are looking to harmonize systems that are already in place,” he added.Mr. Subasinghe said the challenge for the next decade is to develop specific recommendations for better management practices that will allow producer countries to apply the new principles in the field.“FAO will be giving a lot of attention to this in the coming years, with an eye to seeing management practices put into place around the world that are grounded in these principles and therefore all on the same page,” he said. read more