Catfish standards completed

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Catfish farming standards were finalized early this week by the Pangasius Aquaculture Dialogue, a network of 600-plus farmers, scientists, and conservationists from around the globe.

The standards were developed through the Aquaculture Dialogues, a series of roundtable discussions coordinated by the World Wildlife Fund to be used for global pangasius farming and trade.

"Pangasius farming is one of the fastest growing aquaculture industries in the world but, until now, there have not been any credible standards for the industry," said Flavio Corsin, who coordinated the Dialogue for WWF.

Corsin said the standards would be the best in the marketplace because they were developed through a transparent, science-based process that involved a broad and very diverse group of people.

The standards were drafted to address key environmental and social issues related to the farming of tra (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) and basa (Pangasius bocourti).

Representatives from the WWF expressed hopes that the final pangasius standards would help minimize water pollution, unfair labor conditions and the destruction of natural habitats to create farms.

The final certification process for these standards will be overseen by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Until the council is created in mid-2011, the certification will be done by Global Gap, a private sector entity that administers a variety of commodity-oriented certification programs worldwide.

Most pangasius farming is done in Vietnam, which then exports the majority of this fish to the European Union, US and Russia.

Vietnam exported US$500 million worth of catfish during the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The country hopes to see a $1.5 billion pangasius export in 2010, compared to $1 billion last year.

The findings of the group will be introduced in 2011.

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