The Global Seafood Alliance is ramping up efforts to engage eaters with the launch of its new Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) consumer-facing website. The site is part of a broader campaign to encourage the consumption of sustainably sourced seafood.
BAP’s new website provides visitors with background information on aquaculture and recipes. The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) is also using the website to help consumers understand their third-party certification program and the BAP label and ultimately purchase seafood products that are better for eaters, workers, and the environment.
Steven Hedlund, Manager for Communications and Events for the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) explains that much of BAP’s educational work has targeted retailers. But, he tells Food Tank, it’s important to have “pressure coming from both the marketplace and consumers.” Consumer demand for sustainable products, he says, “really keeps our industry and other industries really honest in ensuring that best practices are applied up and down the supply chain.”
Hedlund believes that consumer’s knowledge of aquaculture is growing, but room for progress remains. “Everyone can picture a farm with cows or pigs or chickens,” he says, “but they can’t necessarily picture a farm with salmon or shrimp.”
The size of the market can also be difficult for eaters to comprehend. With aquaculture production “it’s not all happening within our borders, it’s happening in different continents,” Hedlund tells Food Tank. “It’s a very fragmented industry and there are a lot of producing countries and there are a lot of consumer countries and products being traded around the world.”
The Healthy Fish, Healthy Planet, Healthy You! campaign, will run through National Seafood Month in October and engage retailers, foodservice operators, and consumers.
The certification process exists to respond to the challenges plaguing the seafood industry. According to Mark Kaplan, Co-Founder of Envisible, a company working to increase traceability and transparency in the sector, these issues include worker exploitation and human trafficking, fraud, and overfishing.
To combat these unethical practices, BAP monitors the full supply chain, including processors, fish farms, hatcheries, and feed mills. The certification standards reflect four pillars of sustainability: environmental, social, food safety, and animal health and welfare. According to Hedlund, more than 3,100 facilities in 39 countries around the world are currently BAP certified.
Products produced at BAP-certified facilities in all four categories can earn a BAP label with four stars. BAP labels with three or fewer stars designate that a portion, but not all, of the supply chain actors were BAP certified.
As standards evolve, BAP also works to update their certification processes. “What was considered a best practice 25 years ago isn’t necessarily a best practice today,” Hedlund says. A 12 person committee regularly reviews and reissues BAP standards to ensure that facilities, audited annually, are complying with the most recent sustainability guidelines.
GSA also offers another certification, known as Best Seafood Practices (BSP), for wild caught seafood to help ensure it is harvested and processed sustainably. Like BAP, BSP works to account for the full supply chain, including fisheries, fishing vessels, and processing plants.
Hedlund believes that GSA’s certification programs are more important than ever, with research from Changing Tastes showing that consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact of their dietary choices. “It’s not just environmental responsibility,” Hedlund tells Food Tank. “It’s everything: how people are treated, how animals are treated, food safety and sanitation. All of these things, to varying degrees, are important to them and it’s very clear that they’re influencing their purchasing decisions.”
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Photo courtesy of Brataffe, Wikimedia Commons