Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ASEAN Seafood Industry Casts Wide Net In Drafting Industry Standards

In another example of ASEAN’s private sector moving ahead with ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration efforts.  Seafood associations in ASEAN have drafted an “ASEAN Shrimp Farming Standard” for the shrimp industry, a major industry in Southeast Asia, as reported here:

A steering committee of 14 industry and non-government stakeholders designed the draft standard to be a workable tool for the shrimp industry in ASEAN to improve the sustainability, environmental and social performance of farming, especially at the small-scale, and receive recognition in key export markets.

The draft standard complements existing national good aquaculture practices and aims to align with internationally accepted environmental and social standards, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Programme sustainability assessment criteria and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council standards.

The process for developing the Shrimp Standard for ASEAN aims to align with the ISEAL Alliance’s globally recognised guidelines for setting environment and social standards.

The draft standard is split into farm, hatchery and feed mill standards which cover traceability, shrimp health, sustainable stock sourcing, sustainable feed sourcing, environmental impact management and good labour management.

Unusually for an ASEAN industry-wide effort, the draft standard’s organizers have posted the draft standard on the internet and requested public comment via the internet.  Comments can be posted here and are due by October 10.

Usually ASEAN-wide industry efforts are at an elite level, such as the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.  That effort resulted from the joint efforts of national-level cosmetics associations over 10+ years.   Only after that long and sustained effort did the ASEAN member states adopt the Cosmetics Directive on a region-wide basis.

Hopefully this more open, broader approach to ASEAN industry wide standardization efforts will be repeated more often, as it will increase the “buy in” by local companies and convince ASEAN member states of the need to adopt such standards.  Broader, public efforts may be easier for industries such as seafood which are export-oriented (e.g., focused on extra-ASEAN exports) and not dependent on intra-ASEAN competition, which will give rise to conflicts within the region.  Nevertheless, private sector-initiated efforts like the Shrimp Farming Standard and the Cosmetics Directive will have a greater chance of adoption within the industry and by the ASEAN member states.