WWF removes Pangasius from red list !! a compilation of articles

WWF, the environmental campaign group, has dropped its call for consumers to avoid Vietnamese catfish – a key export product – following intense lobbying from the Vietnamese government and seafood industry.

Last week, the government hit out at WWF, saying its claim that Vietnam’s rapidly growing catfish industry was damaging the environment and endangering food safety was “not objective, scientifically baseless and incorrect”.

Catfish, also known as pangasius, is a key export industry for Vietnam, with producers expected to sell 600,000 tons of the fish overseas this year, generating $1.5bn.

The government said the call not to buy catfish would “seriously hurt the livelihood of Vietnamese aquaculture farmers as well as European consumers,” who buy more than one-third of Vietnam’s catfish exports.

After meeting with government officials and representatives from the seafood industry in Hanoi on Wednesday, WWF made an abrupt U-turn, abandoning its advice not to buy the fish, which it has made in seafood buying guides produced in Europe, and encouraging consumers to support the industry.

Mark Powell, global seafood co-ordinator for WWF, said the organisation stood by its scientific assessment of the industry’s problems – that it lacked adequate regulation, damaged natural habitats and was at risk of disease outbreaks.

However, he said WWF had changed its view on the best way to promote sustainable catfish production in Vietnam and now wanted to work with farmers and consumers to ensure that the industry can meet global standards in future.

“WWF will recommend that seafood buyers continue to buy pangasius as a way to support the movement towards certification,” he said.

Nguyen Huu Dung, vice-president of the Vietnam association of seafood exporters and producers, said the producers and WWF would “collaborate closely to develop the catfish breeding industry in Vietnam, aiming to reach the goal of sustainable development”.

International non-governmental organisations and local civil society groups are tightly controlled and monitored by Vietnam’s communist government.

Last year, one of Vietnam’s few independent think-tanks, the Institute for Development Studies, decided to close because of new government restrictions on civil society groups, which were criticised by some Vietnamese academics and EU diplomats.

Over the past week, there has been a flurry of front-page stories in state newspapers attacking WWF and calling on the organisation to apologise for the damage it has done to the Vietnamese economy. Local WWF staff said that it had been a “sensitive” time for their organisation.

However, Mr Powell dismissed the suggestion that WWF’s sudden change of policy had been driven by political pressure.

“I don’t think that’s what happened,” he said. “What happened is we discussed the future and how WWF can give advice to seafood buyers that is most successful in promoting a future of certified, sustainable production.”

Source: http://www.ft.com

Article posted by Tuoi Tre News on the same topic

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has agreed to remove Vietnamese Pangasius from the red list in its 2010-2011 guidance manual for consumers in six European markets, following a meeting in Hanoi Wednesday.

WWF will recommend consumers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, and Demark to continue buying Vietnamese tra fish products, WWF global seafood coordinator Mark Powell told the media after the meeting among WWF, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the Vietnam Fisheries Association and the General Directorate of Fisheries.

“We agree with Vietnam that the country’s catfish industry has a bright future”.

The past incident, as Powell said, is just “disagreement within family”, and it will not affect the cooperation between Vietnam and WWF.

The WWF delegation will meet with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Thursday to discuss future cooperation with Vietnam in fisheries, but they would not carry out a field study in Can Tho – the country’s major catfish farming hub.

But we will return to Vietnam as soon as possible for a clearer study about Vietnam tra fish farming and processing, Powell added.

VASEP deputy chairman Nguyen Huu Dung appreciated WWF’s timely and accurate response and cooperative attitude. Meanwhile, Pham Anh Tuan, deputy head of the General Directorate of Fisheries, said they already had a frank talk together

Article posted by VietNamNet on the same topic

Mark Powell, head of the WWF International Global Seafood Programme, has admitted WWF made mistake at a meeting held today with the General Department of Fisheries, Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters & Producers (VASEP). He also pledged to immediately remove the fish from the red list and encourage European consumers to continue buying the fish.

Opening the meeting, vice chairman of VASEP, Nguyen Huu Dung, continued to stress that WWF’s putting Vietnam’s tra fish on the consumer’s red list warning people in six European countries was not a proper assessment.

Dung pointed out the results provided recently by WWF were not transparent and appropriate.

Replying to Dung’s statement, the WFF representative officially admitted responsibility, saying that it was his fault for announcing the inaccurate information. He noted, however, that it may take some time to remove the fish from the list.

Deputy head of the General Department of Fisheries, Pham Anh Tuan, immediately challenged Mark Powell’s statement, saying that WWF’s mistake has greatly affected the lives of Vietnamese fishermen and led to indignation among local people. “In any case, the WWF must remove tra fish from the list immediately,” he stressed.

Faced with strong evidence and convincing arguments from Vietnam, WWF’s Mark Powell agreed to switch the fish to the list titled “On the way to sustainable development”. He also promised to help Vietnam get the fish onto the list of “Sustainable development”.

Agreeing with Mark Powell’s idea, Dung said that putting tra fish to the “sustainable development” list is also the aim of Vietnam and the country is now trying for that. Dung added that Vietnam and WWF can cooperate in building a trademark for Vietnamese tra fish to guarantee its sustainable development.

After the meeting, Pham Anh Tuan invited Mark Powell and other WWF representatives to visit some tra breeding farms.

As scheduled, WWF representatives will meet with Vietnam representatives again on December 16 to seek an agreement in making tra fish a product of sustainable development on the world market.

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