WWF accused of selling out to industry with new ASC aquaculture standards

In response to yesterday’s formal launch of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) by WWF, a number of locally based community activists and some environmental groups condemned the WWF approach as a sell out to the international aquaculture industry. 

Issuing a statement in Brussels, that called the standards for tilapia, pangasius, abalone and bivalves “a crude attempt […] that perpetuated unsustainable production systems” the activists dismissed WWF’s claim that the standards were developed in consultation with local communities and indigenous peoples who are affected by aquaculture farms.

They alleged that WWF’s plans to certify the export-oriented, industrial production of such species as shrimp, pangasius and salmon were developed specifically to promote the interests of the aquaculture industry. They also pointed out that the standards were being diluted under pressure from the industry to ensure that 20% of existing shrimp producers could be certified immediately after the standards were released.

“WWF is wrong to claim their standards include inputs from local “stakeholders” when the main body of those stakeholders- the local resource users, who are directly affected by the industry- did not have any voice in determining these ‘standards’,” says Natasha Ahmad of Asia Solidarity Against Industrial Aquaculture (ASIA).

Riza Damanik of KIARA — a network of Indonesian fisher-folk groups — agrees. “We saw the WWF Aquaculture Dialogue in Jakarta and protested at the venue,” he said. “99% of those in attendance were from the shrimp industry and the government. WWF’s claim that communities were involved is a joke — they organized their so-called dialogue with affected local communities in a posh city venue.”

“These WWF/ShAD standards are just one more ‘pie-in-the-sky’ attempt to justify and expand the profits of an unsustainable and destructive industry, resulting in further loss of mangrove forests and displacement of local communities,” says Alfredo Quarto, of Mangrove Action Project.

”WWF continues to ignore the risk that their shrimp certification scheme may result in actually increasing demand for shrimp, thus increasing the expansion of the bad practices that certification was supposedly trying to address through these standards,” says Gudrun Hubendick of the Stockholm Shrimp Action Group in Sweden.

The Open Letter is signed “The Conscientious Objectors” and the signatories work on an astonishingly diverse spectrum of issues — human rights, consumer rights, indigenous peoples rights, land and water use, agriculture, environmental law and conservation, labour rights, marine and coastal ecology, soil science, social science and fisheries. The Conscientious Objectors claim that export-oriented, industrial aquaculture has had a devastating impact on all these sectors.

Source: VASEP

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