This series provides insights into the global array of companies participating in this challenge as innovators or sponsors.
The 15th of this Spotlight Series focuses on Global Seafood Alliance, one of the sponsors of this program.
Global Seafood Alliance sees huge potential to unify and promote seafood industry.
(Portsmouth, NH, USA) Innovation in aquaculture is still in its infancy, and start-ups will have a huge role in improving the health and animal welfare scorecard of this fast growing animal protein industry, according to trade group Global Seafood Alliance (GSA).
“I think we’re still at the beginning,” GSA President George Chamberlain said. “There’s an enormous scope for improvement.”
Chamberlain, who spent an entire career working in shrimp farming, cited several areas where innovation can drive improvements in sustainability and animal welfare.
Many shrimp farmers in Southeast Asia and Latin America still use relatively shallow, flat-bottomed ponds designed decades ago for much lower stocking densities. They’ve adjusted to higher density mainly by adding more paddlewheels. These aerators serve multiple functions including gas exchange, destratification, and circulation to create sufficient horizontal water velocity to sweep uneaten feed and organic wastes to the drain. This works to a degree, but often aerators simply chase the waste to a different quiescent zone -- not to the drain. So, high rates of water exchange are often required to assist in flushing wastes. This process works, but it’s not the most sustainable or energy efficient approach, because the ponds simply weren’t designed for this purpose, he said.
“It’s a case of needing the innovations to design the right shape, depth, slope, and hydraulics for a self-cleaning system with the appropriate water velocity to transport wastes but not interfere with shrimp behavior and the right aeration system to achieve efficient gas exchange with minimal energy,” he said.
“Aquaculture feed is another area ripe for improvements. While most of the aquaculture industry boasts better sustainability credentials than the livestock industry, the marine finfish farming sector, especially in Asia, underperforms because it relies on frozen trash fish as feed. Encouraging farmers to use extruded feeds and discouraging trash fish catches that reduce biodiversity in the ocean would be a great stride for that sector,” Chamberlain said.
GSA, formerly the Global Aquaculture Alliance, is a non governmental organization that seeks to build consumer trust in farmed and wild caught seafood through its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Best Seafood Practices (BSP) certification programs. The BAP and BSP logos assure consumers the seafood they are buying was caught or produced in a safe, ethical and sustainable manner.
“GSA’s certification of both types of seafood aims to eventually bridge the gap between the two by adopting the alliance’s well-established principles in farming to the wild-catch sector,” Chamberlain said. For example, fishmeal is the primary ingredient in salmon and shrimp feeds, and outsiders often do not understand the distinction between sustainably caught marine ingredients versus those that are unsustainable.
“We heard so much about the antagonism between wild catch and farmed seafood that we think it's counterproductive on both sides,” Chamberlain said about his organization’s new mission. “We would love to unify both sectors and promote the benefits of seafood.”
In addition to its certification programs, GSA acts as an advocate for aquaculture through its annual GOAL conference that brings together industry stakeholders including farmers and retailers.
GSA selects the conference venue with a view to generate a debate around a specific problem facing aquaculture farmers in the host country, Chamberlain said. GOAL 2019 in Chennai, India addressed diseases such as white spot syndrome and Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei that have bedeviled shrimp farmers in that country. GOAL 2011 in Santiago, Chile highlighted infectious salmon anemia that had decimated the Chilean salmon industry.
GSA bestows its innovation award at each GOAL on those companies and individuals who improve aquaculture sustainability through new practices and technologies.
The GSA also endorsed the Global Aquaculture Challenge organized by The Yield Lab Asia Pacific as part of its worldwide effort to spur innovation.
“The challenge aligns perfectly with what we do,” GSA communications, media and events manager Steven Hedlund said. “It’s pre-competitive and we are trying to just be a platform for responsible aquaculture, so competitions like this that align with our purpose is something we are interested in.”
18 Oct 2021.
Matt Craze and Oriana Aguillon, Spheric Research.