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A Shrimp Protocol for the Asian Seafood Industry

The ASIC shrimp program was developed by a 21-person steering committee that includes voting members from Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The ASIC shrimp program includes three levels of improvement including ASIC Shrimp Grey, Green, and Yellow. ASIC Shrimp Yellow is aligned with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (MBASW) “Good Alternative” and ASIC Shrimp Green is aligned with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch “Best Choice” in the hopes of recognizing those producers who have implemented some of the most responsible and sustainable practices without the costs, hoops, and time required for most other certifications.

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MBASW is well recognized by buyers in the US and its recognition is growing around the world. The idea behind the ASIC shrimp tiered system is that any farm that is assessed against the standard can claim the associated MBASW rating. ASIC Grey is an introductory level designed to help those producers move forward who need more help on practices and improvements before they can qualify for ASIC Shrimp Yellow.

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 The goal of the ASIC Shrimp program is better reconciliation between the desires of the marketplace and the realities facing producers on the ground. There are a range of shrimp farm certifications on the market, but they have all underperformed when it comes to creating lasting impact that works for farmers and producers in Asian countries. That is why ASIC convened a group of stakeholders to develop the ASIC Shrimp Standards in a way that farmers will understand and execute easily as well as offer a tiered system that will translate to clear market incentives with the largest recognized rating system in the US. By aligning the ASIC Shrimp Standards, farmers enter premium markets while also improving the environment and communities in their area.

Objectives

  • Create an approach that reconciles the realities facing producers with the desires of the marketplace

  • Build equitable partnerships with international and regional markets to support improvements using the ASIC Shrimp platform

  • Manage and eliminate the risk of human trafficking with a data driven approach

  • Build a platform that supports reforms in governance, ultimately leading to investment in the shrimp aquaculture industry

Scope

ASIC Shrimp is made up of interim targets incorporated from the national/ regional good aquaculture practices (GAP), and the most achievable and important requirements of international recognized environmental and social aquaculture certifications schemes and ratings systems such as the Seafood Watch system.  Building a protocol that couples Southeast Asian realties with the most important sustainability requirements will give farmers firsthand experience with the benefits of the improvements; and ideally lead to a greater willingness by farmers and other supply chain actors to make the investments required to further improve and enhance sustainable and responsible production practices. It is critical that any benchmark set is achievable by a sufficient number of shrimp farmers in Southeast Asia, including at the small-scale, and would offer manageable targets to serve as a catalyst in encouraging compliance with set requirements. The current protocol is applicable to all types of shrimp farming systems in all Southeast Asian countries.

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Governance

ASIC Shrimp is being developed through a multi-stakeholder, transparent and inclusive process. The process for developing the Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative Shrimp project aims to align with the ISEAL Alliance’s globally recognized guidelines for the setting of environment and social standards/protocols. The ISEAL Alliance is a global organization that develops codes of practice for the development of sustainability standards/protocols. Many buyers and NGOs cite the ISEAL Codes of Conduct as the best reference for what defines a credible standard/protocol setting process.

Project Convener and Funding

ASIC Shrimp was originally convened under the USAID M.A.R.K.E.T. (Maximizing Agricultural Revenue Knowledge, Enterprise, and Trade Project) in December 2013 who started the project under the ASEAN Public-Private Taskforce for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. The USAID M.A.R.K.E.T. ended in June 2015 and ASIC Shrimp was required to find alternative funding to continue the process. As of May 1st, 2015, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program agreed to become the convener of the process and raise funds to continue the process and succeeded in finding some interim funding via the Skoll Foundation for 2016.

As of January 1st, 2016 the project will be managed by Postelsia who is a non-voting member of the process and works to support the work of ASIC Shrimp is all ways including planning and managing all Steering Committee meetings, managing the demonstration phase, communications, and preparing all documents for the process.


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