Third Party Certifications: Why Are We Letting Foxes Guard the Hen House?

Third Party Certifications: Why Are We Letting Foxes Guard the Hen House?

Third Party Certifications: Why Are We Letting Foxes Guard the Hen House?


Using “organic” shrimp as the case in point for examining the pros and cons of 3rd Party “Eco-Labeling”


A Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IFCNR)

Searching for Sustainable Solutions Series White Paper

2018-002-Certification Standards


Authored by

John D. Aquilino Jr.

Kelsy Armstrong


May  2018

© 2018 International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IFCNR) – All Rights Reserved




Farmed shrimp is the single most valuable globally traded aquaculture commodity.

“Certified,” “Sustainable,” “Traceable,” “Responsible,” are words when appended to “Seafood” on packages of shrimp as well as fish, crab, scallops, or any value-added seafood product conjure a myriad of feelings.

Environmental NGOs insist one or more with an accompanying logo from any related self-appointed certifying organizations must be on every seafood item sold.  They claim that certified seafood particularly with the word “organic” added bring price premiums.  They also downplay the worth of similar labels from industry related sources.

The seafood industry itself takes a mixed view.  On one hand, they consider them a burdensome non-government tax with little effect on protecting the environment.  On the other, they admit “certified sustainable” and “organic” labeling gains entrance to certain highly desirable and very selective markets.

Those words convey the concept that the seafood species in question was taken from the wild or farmed in such a way that plenty will be available for future generations.  To sophisticated consumers, they say their seafood can be traced from  fishmonger, grocer, or internet sales site back through its journey from estuary, bay, ocean, or aquaculture pond to the plate before them with assurances it was harvested without wanton disregard and destruction of seafood stocks or aquatic ecosystems.

Seafood certified as “organic” conveys an even stronger message.  To be deemed “organic” means first and foremost that strict adherence to governmental standards for that status are observed.   Most simply put, in addition to being sustainable, it was raised as close to naturally as possible.

For the fishermen or farmers, the “organic” designation is good marketing.  It guarantees their product – whether shrimp or salmon, etc. – will be accepted by high-end retailers willing to pay better than pond bank prices and whose customers never blink at the premium tag appended to a pound or two of whatever is in the “organic” display case.

Food security in general and the safety and supply of food from the sea in particular are and should be righteous concerns for all humankind.  If the Earth’s aquatic eco-systems are destroyed by rampant over-exploitation, the oceans die.  If the ocean’s die, so too does the planet.  Thus, everyone with a care towards the environment and future generations of its inhabitants should have a vested interest in and recognize the importance of reducing harm done to marine life by sourcing only robustly sustainable seafood.

For seafood to be truly “sustainable,” whether farmed or wild caught, all three legs of the Triple Bottom Line – environmental responsibility, economic profitability, and social equity – must be factored in.  The people involved in every aspect of the process must be fairly compensated, treated with dignity and respect, and understand their important role of conserving the existence and welfare of wild species and the environment.

IFCNR’s mantra, that “humans are part of nature, not apart from nature,” has a corollary: “Poverty is the worst form of pollution.”  Humankind must understand the consequences of its collective behavior and demand that sustainability be observed.

The days of seafood callously scooped from the sea with disregard to the damage done to coral reefs, the ocean floor, and the horrific by-catch kill, or from a fetid, shallow pond, and plopped into a bag or basket, then hustled to market, are far from over. In fact, the era of “sustainable” and “traceable” seafood is just beginning.

Consumer gratitude is due to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The FAO is the global beacon calling attention to the entwined issues of food security, food safety, social justice, and environmental responsibility through its “Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries,” first issued in 1995 and its aquaculture guidelines first drafted in 2006. From those standards evolved the concept of “eco” labels as a means for retailers and consumers to identify the most “Earth-friendly” commodities. Ideally, those labels indicate, in this case, the seafood commodity for sale originated from sources respectful of the environment; they also represent significant profit potential thanks to their association with best measure environmental and social birthright.

“Eco labels” represent a lucrative side-industry based on the business of issuing certifications.  Profits generated from such certifications are impressive and the power of the issuing authority over business techniques as well as admission into the company of eco-friendly and/or organic purveyors is significant. The unfortunate fact of human nature is that the potential for corruption or questionable motivation always exists in any profit-generating endeavor – including “Eco-label” certification.

Given the myriad of “Eco” certifiers representing nations, regional areas, NGOs, and the seafood industry itself plying their trade worldwide, the question that continually arises is “who to believe?” Seeking credible organic certification for farmed shrimp presents an even greater problem.  Some major consumer nations including the United States have no organic standards. Some regional jurisdictions, such as the European Union, do. Within the EU, groups such as Germany’s Naturland also certify shrimp farms and their products as “organic.” However, and in spite of a multitude of “Eco” certification groups, there is no one bedrock credible source accepted worldwide.

Consumer confidence in a commodity, whether farmed shrimp, wild caught marine fish, or fruits, grains, or vegetables certified as eco-friendly and/or organic, is directly related to the thoroughness of the vetting process, the standards applied, and the credibility of the certifying agency.

It is the purpose of this paper to present a compelling argument to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that FAO join with the World Health Organization (WHO) and designate the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) as the agency to implement and oversee the creation of uniform standards for the terms “Sustainable,” “Traceable,” and “Organic” as applied to shrimp and seafood or any food animal product in general. Those standards would then be inserted into the Codex Alimentarius.  From that process will emerge a universally accepted environmentally friendly “eco-label” for all sectors of fisheries, aquaculture, and agriculture.

An eco-label or organic-designation issued by the Codex Alimentarius Commission would eliminate consumer confusion over the multitude of existing labels and foster greater credibility and consumer confidence than any regional, industry, or NGO-based certification.


Table of Contents


Farmed Seafood Today…Shrimp!

The Significance of “Eco-Labels”

Increased Revenues

Should the Fox Guard the Hen House?

The Evolution of Third Party Certification

A Less Than Credible Industry

Is Third Party “Eco” Certification Important?

Towards an End to Hunger & Poverty

Social Justice for Women & Children

Environmental Concerns

Why Certify Eco-Friendly? Why Organic?

Who Defines Eco-Friendly & Organic Shrimp Standards?



Farmed Seafood Demand Today…Shrimp!

Seafood, according to the 35-member nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), contributes US$1.5 trillion dollars annually to the world’s economy.  Fisheries contributed fully 17 percent of total global animal protein to people’s diets in 2014.  Between 10 and 12 percent of OECD’s inhabitants depend upon aquaculture and fisheries for their livelihoods.[1]

Consumer demand for seafood is driven by a number of interrelated forces: location, availability, and consumer desire for a healthier and affordable animal protein source.  The rise of aquaculture is a major contributing factor involving all three. In 1950, the year the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) began collecting data on global seafood production, aquaculture was little more than an afterthought in terms of its importance.  That year capture fisheries landed 412,000 tons of seafood.  Aquaculture accounted for 1,325 tons. Farmed seafood began its meteoric rise in 1975, when production reached 20,000 tons.  Ten years later production increased ten-fold to 200,000 tons.  2004 saw cultured seafood reaching 2.5 million tons.[2]  By 2016, worldwide aquaculture production of seafood reached 110.2 million tons worth US$243.5 billion dollars, according to statistics published by FAO.[3]

According to FAO’s world fish trade analysis arm, Globefish, Europe, the United States, China, and Japan are the leading shrimp importing nations with a combined amount for 2016 of nearly 2 million tons.[4]

For decades prior to 2013, shrimp and prawns were the global leaders in value of traded commodities.  That year, salmon and trout took the top spot dropping shrimp to a close second.  Salmon and trout earned a 16.6 percent share of seafood trade value.  Shrimp and prawns followed with a 15.3 percent share. [5]

Shrimp is a very big international business and the global market is one of the most competitive in the world.

Of the wild caught and farmed shrimp species considered commercially viable, two of them far outrank all others within shrimp aquaculture:  the Pacific white shrimp, or white-leg shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) and the Giant Tiger Prawn, or black tiger (Penaeus monodon).

Within the panoply of seafood options available to consumers today, farmed “white leg” shrimp, Penaeus vannameiis the most attractive in terms of value.  2017 final projections are expected to reach US$14 billion, with projections leaping to US$25 billion by 2027.[6]  Overall, P. vannamei account for roughly 75 percent of all farmed shrimp species using 2017 statistics.[7]

The Significance of “Eco-Labels”

Increasing consumer demand as well as price continue to drive food value. Farmed shrimp is a commodity that illustrates that premise.  Value increases despite instabilities in import nation economies and fluctuating prices due to precipitous, often disease-driven declines in production as well as the opposite, an overabundance of product. The value derived from farmed shrimp by producer nations extends beyond the income and hard currency it provides.  It is a significant source of jobs directly in the industry and secondary or supporting jobs from construction, feed, equipment, and supplies that, in turn, provide income to improve local nutrition, health, and educational options for workers on the farms and in supporting operations such as processing, distribution, and transportation and for their families.   Any factor that encourages consumer confidence and willingness to buy farmed shrimp and to pay premium prices for quality categories also increases the value of the shrimp industry and improves its economic and societal benefits.

Certification is a marketing tool that encourages greater consumption, increased sales, and, to a degree, consumer confidence.  The trouble with multiple eco-labels from a variety of sources is that they tend to foster consumer confusion.

The world’s leading shrimp consuming nations are among the wealthiest and most developed. As noted ,Europe ranks first followed by the United States, China, and Japan. Unfortunately, many producer/exporting nations’ economies are quite the opposite in terms of economics.  Over the past few decades, consumers from developed nations are moving towards healthy food choices for themselves and the planet.  They are showing a growing concern and a willingness to pay premium prices for commodities from sources that are both environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.

The organic movement in agriculture – terrestrial and aquatic – is a relatively small sector compared to its economic foothold in commercial agriculture and the vastness of aquaculture. Its greatest importance lies in its intrinsic characteristics that have a direct influence on FAO goals as well as its practical market applications.

Shrimp  bearing an “organic” label do command higher prices and bolster greater consumer confidence.[8]

The global importance of organically-farmed foods is enjoying unprecedented growth. The “organic” designation on agricultural products brings an “add-on” hard currency value and ensures strong market acceptance throughout developed nations.

Organic food sales have enjoyed impressive growth in terms of consumer acceptance and economic gains since the early 1990s.[9]In the United States alone, organic food sales saw a 6.4 percent increase in 2017 worth US$45.2 billion.[10]The European organic food market is predicted to reach US$39 billion in sales by 2020.[11]

FAO defines aquaculture as “farming in water” and “the aquatic equivalent of agriculture or farming on land.”[12]That definition is appropriate as the same economic, social, nutritional, health, and environmental concerns and benefits that apply to agriculture, therefore apply to aquaculture.  Predictions of a 240-fold increase in organic aquaculture by 2030 can be found in credible scholarship on the subject.[13]

It wasn’t until 2000 that the first pilot projects for “organic” shrimp production appeared and sparked interest in the positive economic potential for organic certification.

Increased Revenue

At every level from farm to retail, the overriding motivation to produce, process, and sell shrimp is the pursuit of income.  Any means to legitimately increase revenues and instill in consumers a willingness to purchase farmed shrimp furthers the social and economic goals of FAO.  These global goals are straightforward: to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity and economic growth, raise living standards for the rural poor, all while preserving natural resources.

“Eco-labels” on packaging imply the product in question was raised in an environmentally responsible manner. “Organic” eco-labels are perceived by consumers and the organic food movement to indicate adherence to the strictest environmental and safety standards during that process.  One problem is that defining “organic” for a specific food item can be complicated.  For that reason, government agencies can take years to issue guidelines that are acceptable if not completely compatible with scientific criteria. It must be remembered that the two terms – sustainable and organic – are not interchangeable.  A food product, whether from land or the oceans, can be environmentally sustainable and responsibly produced, yet not be “organic.”

The fact that farmed shrimp bearing an “organic” label tend to command the highest prices is quite apparent to producers and retailers alike. “Organic” is a highly desirable marketing device.   Consumers hope products marked with a credible “organic” tag that guarantees their fidelity to stringent environmental and social responsibility standards, thus the reason they carry premium pricing.  That is a fact quite apparent with shrimp, a commodity highly sought by consumers in upscale demographics who are willing to pay increased prices even during economically stressed times.

Profits generated by worldwide sales of organic food and drink jumped to US$54.9 billion in 2009 up from US$18 billion in 2000.[14] North America (US$45.2 billion in 2017) and Europe (US$26 billion) command 96 percent of the world’s organic market. The United States, Germany, France, and Italy are the leading “organic” consumer nations.  The latter three countries together with the United Kingdom represent a full 70 percent of European organic sales.[15]By 2016, organic food sales reached US$90 billion, an increase from US$81.6 billion in 2015.[16]In 2016, the United States exported US$548 million in organic food.  That year the United States imported US$1.65 billion worth of organic food from 87 countries.[17]Worldwide, the organic food sector is predicted to reach US$320.5 billion by 2025.[18]

A number of factors contribute to the United States’ position as the global leader in consumer demand for organic products.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, US consumers “prefer organically produced food because of their concerns regarding health, the environment, and animal welfare.[19]

Social status also plays a role in consumers who are willing to pay 30 to 50% more for organic food.  Some of the consumers concerned about healthy lifestyles and environmental issues also aspire to higher social status; these are the affluent “prestige lovers” who seek to differentiate themselves from “lower classes.”[20]Regardless of an individual consumer’s motivation, the trend toward organics is urged along by the media’s promotion of organic food by virtually every domestic food producing corporation and retail grocery outlet.

An eco-label, including one emblazoned with the word “organic” tends to increase revenues compared to the same product lacking such a designation. It should follow then that producers, in search of higher profits, would seek to provide such a product thereby insuring that they would adhere to those criteria issued by a recognized international authority such as FAO.  By pursuing those profits, industry would, by definition, further FAO’s twin goals of protecting the planet and feeding its inhabitants.  Added practical support would then be provided toward alleviating poverty, eliminating hunger, gender discrimination, and child labor.

There is, however, a problem within the eco-label/organic food industry.

Should the Fox Guard the Hen House?

“Eco” friendly designations not only generate billions of U.S. dollars to producer nations, they’ve also given rise to an industry of “Eco” certifiers worth millions of dollars.   The lure of such income potential guarantees an eager bevy of  third party certifiers more than willing to accommodate with their own unique eco logo/fishery certification as large a market share of the “eco-label” clientele universe as possible.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the most successful of Third Party Certifiers.  Its “sustainable seafood” logo is on nearly 25,000 products that represent 731,000 tons of seafood worth US$5.6 billion dollars. According to its 2016-2017 Annual Report, its revenues for 2016 were £19.9 million (US$26.3 million).

Fees to audit producer companies range from a few thousand U.S. dollars to US$120,000 and more.  Revenue from those fees is compelling enough to prompt a scramble among organizations within industry, NGOs, as well as quasi-national entities, to participate in this new “cottage industry.”  Its promise to generate significant revenues for arbiters within agriculture and aquaculture to determine what products are and are not “environmentally-friendly” has created a crowded field of competing third party certifiers.  As of 2015, there were 459 certifying groups[21]globally with forecasts of 600 by 2020 and 750 by 2030.[22]

With such a glut of competition, it is clear why consumers as well as producers, buyers, and retailers can be confused.

Those certification groups with the ability, or cheek, to deem products certified “organic” add not only a greater level of commodity value and perceived consumer confidence, but also increase income potential for themselves. Third party certification along with its acknowledged potential to generate significant income attracts a mix of well-meaning individuals and certifying agencies as well as more than a few unsavory characters and organizations of questionable ethics.  The natural result is the quite valid conclusion that the criteria for certification may or may not reflect the truth of the relationship between the production process and the environment.

As noted, a commodity may be truly “environmentally” (or “eco”) friendly and yet not be “organic.”  Similarly, a certified “organic” product might not be produced in a manner recognized as compatible with the designation of “earth friendly.”

Confusion and doubt as to the veracity of a particular added-value “eco” or “organic” label can stem from competing certification agencies attempting to undermine the credibility of each other.  NGO-based labeling agencies tend to cast doubt about the credibility of industry-generated eco-labels and organic standards as self-serving, of poor quality, and profit-motivated.  They also criticize competing NGO certifying agencies as thinly veiled and deceptive fronts for industry.  Industry, on the other hand, makes many of the same claims against environmental NGO-certifiers.  National or quasi-national certifiers can also seek to undermine competition from other countries, NGOs, as well as industry-related groups.  All of which begs the question: Who is a consumer to believe?

The Evolution of Third Party Certification

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued its “Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries” in 1995.  The FAO Code pointed out the interrelatedness of food security, food safety, social justice, and environmental responsibility.  Similar guidelines for aquaculture were issued in 2006.

In 1996, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) teamed with Unilever, a US$10 billion British/Dutch consumer goods company to create the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the pioneer and premier organization to certify sustainable capture fisheries.  Fourteen years later, WWF formed the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

To its credit, ASC is making headway in the shrimp certifying business.  Unfortunately, ASC’s rates are prohibitive for many Asian and Latin American farmers.

After the collapse of the northwest Atlantic cod stocks, MSC began life as a cooperative venture to end destructive fishing practices.  Unilever promised to process only “sustainable” seafood.  ASC, too, was formed as a joint venture between WWF and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).  The WWF/Unilever union showed promise as a mechanism to neutralize tension between the seafood industry and the environmental movement. The idea was to provide consumers with the best “environmental” choice in seafood and create an unbiased and objective arbiter of right and wrong practices by wild caught fisheries.    The relationship between MSC and Unilever, however, proved short lived.

Non-profit NGOs traditionally are known for their adversarial relations with for-profit corporations and industries considered by the NGO as blights on the environment.  On the plus side, NGO-run 3rd party certification schemes quell much of that negative dynamic.  Their motivation lies, in part, from concern for the environment and, in part, because the NGOs benefit economically from corporate subsidies either directly or through fees for the use of proprietary eco-label imprinted on product packaging.  Fully half of MSC’s 2012 income – almost $20 million – stemmed from logo licensing fees with the rest from donations.

Fisheries, processors, and seafood brands alike benefit because certification schemes are the means by which they can place their products in certain prime markets.  Whether they truly believe certification provides real benefits to the environment is debatable. Some do. Some hope so. Some don’t care.  What they do care about is whether or not environmentally conscious consumers believe it and are willing to pay extra to assuage their concern for the planet by doing little more than purchasing commodities bearing an eco-logo.

The value of seafood does not rest solely on its nutritional benefits or contribution to the world food supply.  Economically, it is among the highest traded commodities and most dynamic of global food industries.  Food from the sea rivals and, in some instances, proves more economically important than that produced on land.  According to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the 2012 export value of seafood from developing nations (that accounts for two thirds of the world’s seafood production and more than half its dollar value) exceeded that of rice, meat, milk, sugar, and bananas combined.

To find the value and importance of global seafood, the starting point begins with FAO.   FAO is the gold standard for worldwide fisheries data and its “State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018” as well as earlier editions are the statistical resources upon which virtually every report on the subject depends. According to FAO, 59.6 million humans worldwide owe all or a significant part of their living to capture fisheries (40.3 million) and aquaculture (19.3 million). Seafood produced for human consumption via both methods reached 171 million tons in 2016 (80.3 million tons from capture fisheries and 90.3 million tons from aquaculture) for a ballpark figure of US$362 billion dollars.  Of that figure, US$232 billion was generated from aquaculture; US$130 billion from capture fisheries.[23]

One unfortunate characteristic of human nature (regardless of whether one is focused on for-profit or non-profit entities) is that where dollars in such staggering amounts are concerned, altruism for humankind or the environment tends to fall by the wayside. As quickly as FAO began crafting its technical guidelines for sustainable capture fisheries and aquaculture, independent certification organizations appeared and began multiplying like predators sniffing out a banquet of unsuspecting prey.  The same year MSC took center stage, Naturland, a German organization promoting organic farming since 1982, entered the seafood certification arena.  The next year, 1997, the aquaculture industry formed an international trade association: the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA).

Understandably, capture fishery and aquaculture concerns have an abiding distrust of NGOs regulating their behavior just as NGOs are skeptical that for-profit businesses are truthful regarding their treatment of the environment. As a result, competition within the Third Party Certification industry can become heated.

Early on, MSC proved vulnerable to internecine rivalry.  After Unilever sold its seafood subsidiary and withdrew from the MSC partnership, a consortium of competitive NGOs forced WWF out as the group’s managing entity by 1999. WWF re-emerged on the certification scene when it formed the ASC in 2010.

FAO’s first draft of responsible aquaculture guidelines was issued in 2006.  That year, Earth Island Institute created “Friends of the Sea” (FOS) – now an off-shoot of Friends of the Earth – offering to certify the sustainability of both capture fisheries and aquaculture.   Some of the many certifying organizations such as Friends of the Sea are NGO borne.  Some are hybrids combining NGOs, government agencies and for-profit companies.

In 1997, retailers and supermarkets in Britain and in Europe founded EUREPGAP whose original focus was on the welfare of workers and animals in agriculture.  The G.A.P. in its name stands for “Good Agricultural Practices.” A name change to Global G.A.P. and an alliance with Friends of the Sea allowed European salmon farmers to affix both FOS and Global G.A.P. eco-labels on their products by 2007.

Few of the “certifying” agencies do their own audit work to monitor whether a fishery or aquaculture operation complies with sustainable practices.  They rely on outside evaluators like Ireland-based Global Trust. Since stepping into the certification scene in 1998, Global Trust has been the contract auditor for MSC, GAA, Certified Quality Salmon, Seafood Trust, Label Rouge, and Global GAP to mention a few.  Such evaluations can be pricey and take years to complete.  According to Friends of the Sea costs can run from a low of $3000 to $20,000, to a high of $15,000 to $500,000 estimated by MSC.[24]  Duration of the MSC certification is only three years.[25]The initial cost of an MSC audit is only the beginning. A yearly somewhat nominal licensing fee based on a sliding scale of the value of MSC certified seafood sold is included. Its range goes from a couple hundred dollars to US$2000.  Next comes the issue of royalties for the use of the MSC logo.  That amount starts at 0.5 to 3 percent of the net wholesale value of products bearing the MSC logo.  Another royalty formula applies to fresh or frozen items from counter sales.[26]

The dollars involved and competition for the increased income associated with MSC certification bring another set of problems.  Critics claim that certifying agencies hoping to appear more attractive to potential clients are apt to inflate scores during the process and overlook a fishery’s shortcomings.

After MSC certified the Alaska Salmon Processors, the group awarded the MSC certificate – Pacific Seafood Processors Association – refused to allow 20 smaller processors to share the MSC logo unless they forked over three percent of gross sales or $10-$15 million a year.  An arbiter finally settled the issue allowing the protesting group to use the MSC label.

The prize sought by Third Party certifying groups and companies seeking certification alike is placement of eco-labels by the former and display of those labels by the latter on product packages.

MSC’s eco-label is a stylized silhouette of a finfish within a tilted blue oval.  The back of the fish is formed by a checkmark.  ASC’s eco-label is similar.  The fish image and the checkmark are separated and set in a rectangle with rounded corners.  GAA’s eco-label is a blue circle with three fish.  And Friend of the Sea uses a circular red “life preserver” with the image of a sailboat on waves in the center.

Annual fees to display eco-labels also vary.  Friend of the Sea fees start at 1000 Euros (approximately US$1200) and use a sliding rate based on the number of products and number of countries where those products are sold.  MSC eco-labels are said to start at US$250 with a cap of US$2000 per year depending on gross sales.

The promotional pitch for each eco-label is the same.  They are quite laudable in their intent.  Each offers distributors, retailers, and consumers confidence in the product’s safety and quality as well as the idea that it was sourced responsibly.  The most compelling rationale offered distributors and retailers is the concept that consumers seeking earth-friendly seafood are willing to pay premium prices for products bearing an eco-label.

Third Party Certification organizations, and MSC in specific, do provide needed services. They do point consumers to seafood sourced responsibly and discourage distributors and retailers from buying and offering products traced to unscrupulous producers.  Still, for all their good work and good intentions espoused and put into practice, all is not well within the Third Party Certification industry. The glut of eco-label issuing groups raises the very real possibility of what some call “green washing” while others call it “blue-washing.” Both terms suggest a questionable disconnect between certification and environmental sustainability.

A very practical problem with the growth of Third Party Certification is seen in the fact that distributors as well as large retail/grocery and restaurant chains view the variety of agencies and eco-logos with dismay and confusion.  The term they seek from an eco-label is “consistency.” If eco-labels are consistent in the criteria they consider sustainable, consumer confidence in selecting truly sustainable seafood products increases.  According to Paul Gibson, former seafood group director for Safeway, when consumers get confused, “they go and buy chicken.” Gibson said the announcement of the formation of Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) by 17 international seafood companies promised to end that confusion by offering hope that a “commonality” of standards would soon follow.   That was 2013.  GSSI is still in its fledgling state and its objectivity appears questionable due to the perception that it promotes only a select few certifying groups.

A Less Than Credible Industry

MSC, the universally acknowledged leader of the NGO-based certification community, has plenty of loud critical voices claiming it has strayed from its original mission and certifies fisheries that are far from sustainable.  In some circles if one asks: “are seafood products bearing the MSC eco-label sustainable?” the answer is liable to “well, it’s a gamble.  Some yes.  Some maybe no.”  In 2013, MSC received 19 formal objections from numerous scientists and NGO groups. Of those only one was upheld. MSC critics said it applied to fisheries accounting for more than a third by tonnage of seafood from all MSC certified fisheries at the time.  In 2016, MSC was hit with 31 objections.  Two resulted in fishery failures.  Sixteen forced changes in scoring.

Criticism of MSC tends to fall into six categories: certifying fisheries using gear such as bottom trawling and gill-nets considered inherently unsustainable and destructive; certifying fisheries that promise to rebuild depleted stocks before data shows any evidence of such recovery; certifying fisheries with high levels of by-catch and lacking all available proven mitigation methods; treating as equals certified fisheries with no by-catch and those with by-catch; certifying fisheries supplying the fishmeal industry; and favoring large, industrial scale fisheries over small, sustainable fisheries.[27]

Greenpeace and the Pew Environmental Group are among MSC’s harshest NGO critics.  Greenpeace’s 2009 assessment of MSC published a litany of MSC certified fisheries that group claimed were not sustainable:

  • New Zealand bottom trawl hoki fishery;
  • Norwegian saithe bottom trawl fishery;
  • Australian mackerel icefish bottom trawl fishery;
  • Patagonian toothfish fishery;
  • Alaska Pollock fishery;
  • North Sea herring fishery;
  • South African hake bottom trawl fishery;
  • Ekofish Group North Sea twin-rigged otter trawl plaice fishery;
  • Western Australian rock lobster fishery; and the
  • Canadian swordfish fishery.

MSC, Greenpeace charged, certifies fisheries that meet minimum sustainability standards passing some with only a score of 60 out of 100.  They charge that questionable MSC certified fisheries target depleted stocks; endanger non-target species such as blue sharks and sea turtles; trap endangered seal pups; and/or destroy the benthic eco-systems at the oceans’ bottom.

Perhaps one of the more controversial moves by MSC is certification of the Antarctic Krill fishery. Krill is the Norwegian word for “small fry of fish.” They are crustaceans actually. As such, the 85 or so species of krill are considered among the most important tiny creatures in the ocean. They occupy the near bottom trophic level of the oceans’ food chain, where they eat phytoplankton and zooplankton – and convert it to nutrition for larger marine life ranging the entire length of the food chain: fish, squid, seals, penguins, seabirds, and baleen whales including the mighty blue whale.

In 2010, MSC certified the Norwegian one-ship fishery for Antarctic krill by Aker Biomarine. Almost instantly NGOs from Sea Shepherd to Greenpeace to the Pew Environmental Group joined with the Antarctic & Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) to protest the move.  Five years later, MSC certified another Norwegian krill fishery: Olympic Seafood Antarctic Krill Fishery. Greenpeace and other critics insist MSC issued its krill certifications precipitously.  They condemn the lack of research in the affects krill sustainability by factors such as ocean warming, aggregation of Antarctic ice, and the increase in predation by MSC.[28]

The importance of a miniscule organism such as krill cannot be overstated.  Its position on the oceans’ food chain underscores its importance to countless marine species at higher levels.  Scientists suspect a precipitous drop in krill biomass in the Bering Sea in 1998 was instrumental in wild salmon failing to spawn.[29]  Krill is not only affected by fishingbut also by temperature fluctuations caused by weather anomalies such as El Nino and La Nina, parasites, and more.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has its own controversial examples of eco-labels being awarded to recipients it deems intrinsically unworthy.  Included on the Swedish group’s list is a very troubling analysis of Ecuador shrimp farms the German Third Party certifier Naturland deemed “organic.” The Swedish group’s report on shrimp farming in Bangladesh and Ecuador, “Murky Waters,” revealed the use of toxic pesticides to treat shrimp ponds as well as antibiotics to treat the shrimp themselves.[30]Feed composition is another source of controversy the Swedes flagged in the discussion of environmental problems associated with shrimp aquaculture.  Criticism centers on the percentage of protein and nutrients from fishmeal and fish oil in shrimp feed and the effect on overfished wild species.

World Wild Fund (WWF) estimates that 35 percent of capture fisheries target important forage fish species to produce and supply the fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) industry. WWF points out that aquaculture is the fastest-growing end user of FMFO.  While little data is available on the resulting environmental impact on higher levels of predator species by depleting their primary prey fish, WWF suggests it may be “significant.”[31]

The organic standards used by the German certifying agency, Naturland, prohibit fishmeal and fish oil derived from a dedicated fishery.[32]Case histories of organic certification detailed in the Swedish investigations point out that shrimp certified by respected third-party NGO organizations including Naturland can, in fact, not be environmentally friendly for a variety of reasons including land use practices and/or treatment of the animals.

A number of Ecuador’s shrimp farms, designated as “organic” by Naturland, are located on land where mangroves once thrived.  Some share water supplies with non-organic farms, increasing the probability that prohibited chemicals, medications, and pollutants may be introduced to “organic” stocks.  Naturland’s criteria for organic standards acknowledges the necessity of clearing forested land to build open-pond grow-out areas deemed acceptable as long as equal area reforestation is observed.  Unfortunately, follow-up inspections reveal minimal observance of that requirement.

Further, a number of Ecuador’s “organic” shrimp farms employ armed guards to prohibit artesian crab and shellfish gatherers to travel up public rivers to harvest them from mangrove root structures.  Such practices completely undermine the concept of “organic” aquaculture contributing to social justice among some of the planet’s most impoverished people.[33]

There is no justification for any certifying agency to tolerate practices that irreparably damage ocean eco-systems, carpet sea bottoms with tons of penned fish waste, trash marine resources as unwanted by-catch, deplete forage species, or mistreat stakeholders.  If they do any or all of the above, they betray not just their clients and the planet, but their families as well.

Is Third Party “Eco” Certification Important?

“Is Third Party certification important?” or even needed is  the first question that should be foremost on environmentalist minds. By its evolving from a concern for the health and welfare of the Oceans’ inhabitants into a revenue-obsessed business, the certification industry appears to have lost sight of its mission and discounted its utility and credibility.

Consumer confidence in a commodity, whether farmed shrimp or fruits, grains, or vegetables certified as eco-friendly and/or organic is directly related to the thoroughness of the vetting process, the standards applied, and the credibility of the certifying agency.  To eliminate the confusion intrinsic to a crowded field of third party certifiers, there should be only one set of standards, one “eco-label,” one “organic” label, one issuing agency.  That agency, working in tandem with FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), should be The Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Farmed shrimp bearing an eco- or organic-label issued by The Codex Alimentarius Commission would eliminate consumer confusion over the multitude of existing labels and foster far greater credibility and consumer confidence than any industry- or NGO-based certification.  It would also further the goals espoused by FAO.

Towards an End to Hunger & Poverty

Urging FAO to join with WHO and The Codex Alimentarius Commission to become the global arbiter of environmentally friendly and organic food standards does not pretend to argue that the world’s social ills will somehow disappear.  That union will, however, best apply fair and uniform standards worldwide and strive to achieve the mission of the FAO. The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is undeniably correct in its assertion that “hunger eradication is essential for sustainable development, and sustainable consumption and production systems are essential to eradicate hunger and protect ecosystems.”[34]That message echoed in the 2012 edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the Worldunderscores the importance of agriculture to increase the world’s food supply, to recognize its responsibility to preserve nature’s resources, and to enlist the rural poor into the food production workforce.[35]

Aquaculture indeed is a food production industry with great potential for increasing global food security as well as bolstering local, regional, national, and worldwide economies.  In the Foreword to The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012, FAO Assistant Director-General Arni M. Mathiesen predicts that seafood contribution to the global food supply, coupling aquaculture’s share with that of the stable but zero-growth capture fisheries will exceed beef, pork, and poultry production over the next decade.

While it is encouraging that there is growth in per capita food and protein consumption throughout developed and developing nations, that living standards are on the rise, and that international trade is increasing, the fact remains that malnutrition is a major problem worldwide. Undernourishment worldwide affected some 870 million people in 2012, approximately one person in seven or 12.5 percent of the world’s population.[36]That figure declined only minimally to 815 million by 2016.[37]A malnourished populace results in a less efficient labor force hardly capable of providing a robust effort in the workplace. Worse, 3.1 million children die each year due to malnutrition.

Social Justice for Women & Children

Aquaculture per se is amongthe world’s fastest growing food production sectors. It is increasing incash value, animal protein production, and economic importance to developed and developing nations.  It provides 46.8 percent or 110.2 million tons of the world’s seafood supply (2016 statistics)[38]and directly employs approximately 19.3 million individuals. When secondary employment – processing, packaging, marketing, distribution, maintenance, research, administration etc. – and family members are factored in, the number of individuals dependent on the continued success of global aquaculture totals more than 100 million.[39]Yet much remains to be done before all share in the economic benefits associated with farmed shrimp.

Discrimination including sexual abuse against women is one issue that stringent “eco” and, in specific, “organic” standards can address and correct immediately. Although women occupy far more positions than men in processing, marketing, and handling natural resources throughout the aquaculture sector, they are marginalized and isolated from the most profitable positions throughout the industry.  Ending that inequity and “mainstreaming” or achieving social equity for women is an important U.N. objective.  Treatment of women is not the only social problem with aquaculture.  There’s another of equal importance: “Some 60 percent of the 215 million boys and girls estimated to be child laborers worldwide were engaged in the agriculture sector, including fisheries, aquaculture, livestock, and forestry,” according to FAO.[40]Child labor is a tragedy with complex roots. On one hand, there is the horror of child trafficking, disease, and hazardous activity with the potential for injury or death.  On the other, there are the equally repugnant facts of child development-blighting health issues due to malnutrition and poverty, seemingly insurmountable obstacles to educational opportunities, and government impotency.[41]These social inequities can be corrected at least in this sector of the aquaculture industry by insistence and enforcement of industry standards promulgated by FAO and the incentive of increased income.

Environmental Concerns

Of the world’s 1.5 billion hectares of farmed land,[42]a scant 37.2 million in developed and developing nations are dedicated to cultivation of organic crops tended by some 1.8 million farmers.  Fully 75 percent of that acreage is in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  Oceania has nearly one third of the world’s total organic farm acreage (12.15 million hectares) followed by Europe (9.3 million), Latin America (8.6 million), Asia (3.6 million), North America (2.7 million), and Africa (more than one million).

Organic aquaculture’s 424,732 hectares likewise represent an infinitesimally small percentage (at best half of one percent) of the world’s aquaculture area.  That fact lends itself to the danger of the shrimp farm industry being dismissed as an insignificant niche sector within the totality of aquaculture.  Taking a positive point of view, it can be seen as a “clinical trial” opportunity to apply measures aimed at correcting social and environmental problems in a universe small enough to allow close attention to be paid to every detail in the curative process and make immediate course corrections if needed.  Comprehensive standards associated with organic certification can be a potent lever to eliminate many if not all environmental problems associated with shrimp farms.

Environmental degradation associated with aquaculture has many manifestations.  Some are born from greed.  Some are from unintended consequences of well-intentioned but misguided efforts by respected international development institutions hoping to eliminate poverty. Among those issues most controversial and most vocally denounced since the advent of modern shrimp aquaculture in the 1970s, is the destruction of coastal mangrove forests.For the most part such practices appear to be in remission.   Nevertheless, mangrove loss is an important environmental issue.

Mangrove forests are saline swamps made up of some 110 varieties of trees and shrubs with barely half from the mangrove genus Rhizophoria.  Mangroves are the dominant vegetative feature of three-fourths of tropical coastlines. Their dense root systems trap sediment; provide nursery areas for a variety of aquatic organisms including crabs, oysters, and shrimp; create habitat for migratory birds; and mitigate coastal erosion from storm surges.  In turn, they protect coastal waters from soil runoff, filtering sediment and contaminants that otherwise would flow straight into and pollute the seas. They also help stabilize river deltas and coastal lagoons. In short, coastal mangrove forests play an important role in terrestrial and aquatic eco-system equilibrium in addition to their role as safe havens and food “pantries” for a multiplicity of waterfowl, fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic life.[i]

According to the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), an activist, environmental NGO devoted solely to preservation and exposure of threats to mangrove forests, “We havealready lost over half of the world’s original mangrove forest area, estimated at 32 million hectares (app. 80 million acres). In 2007, less than 15 million hectares (37 million acres) of mangroves remain.”[43]Shrimp farming has long been at the top of MAP’s list of threats to mangrove forests.  That list correctly includes urbanization, construction of coastal tourist vacation areas and marinas, charcoal making, logging, and oil exploration as contributing factors in mangrove destruction.


Mangrove destruction via shrimp farm location is a fact acknowledged by scholars, environmental activists, and industry alike.  But as perceptions often become reality in matters of public policy, caution is urged in accepting claims that shrimp farms are the major cause of global mangrove destruction or that shrimp aquaculture’s role is insignificant. Both are self-serving to the goals of advocates for and against shrimp aquaculture.  Both have shades of the truth.

“Farmed Shrimp: A Devastating Delicacy”[44]is typical of Internet article headlines equating shrimp with mangrove clear cutting. Many appear to be generated solely to perpetrate a negative perception of shrimp aquaculture and lack scientific underpinnings.  Still they exist and continue to perpetrate negative perceptions. Examples include: “The rapidly expanding shrimp aquaculture industry poses one of the gravest threats to the world’s remaining mangrove forests and the communities they support” and “We have already lost an estimated one million hectares of important coastal wetlands, including mangroves, in order to make room for the artificial shrimp ponds of this boom and bust industry” as well as “This highly volatile enterprise has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, leaving devastating ruin in its wake.”[45]Such statements cannot help but leave the impression that shrimp aquaculture is an imminent threat to eradicate the Earth’s entire range of mangrove forests.

On the other hand, the claim that “shrimp farming is a minor cause of loss” [46]of mangroves by the industry-created trade association Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) serves to raise the level of controversy and consumer distrust of aquaculture apologists no matter how accurate it might be.

Scholars and activists on both sides of the shrimp farm/mangrove destruction controversy tend to agree that of the 1 to 1.5 million hectares of geographical coast line occupied by shrimp farms, 20 to 40 percent are located where mangroves once thrived.[47]Worldwide, the total area of mangroves is estimated by FAO to be 15.6 million hectares,[48]down from 16 million in 2000 and 19 million in 1980.[49]

Throughout the national regions heavily invested in shrimp farming, directly related mangrove loss varies from 80 to 100 percent to lesser degrees of 18 to 53 percent in area decline validating environmentalist critics’ alarm. Nevertheless, even if 100 percent of world shrimp farms sit upon former mangrove lands, that would account for only 12.5 to 20.8 percent of mangrove loss from 1980 to 2000.

Putting mangrove loss related to shrimp farming in a statistically more accurate perspective compared to total global mangrove acreage does not excuse the industry from causing such environmental degradation in the past, now, or in the future.  Nor does it mean this particular environmental insult no longer occurs.

Areas clear cut of mangroves, no matter how large or small the area, still mean significant eco-system damage to that locale, not to mention the disruption and deeper impoverishment of coastal people who make their living collecting and selling crabs and shellfish from mangrove root-mass.  Unfortunately, the shift from mangrove habitat to other wetland areas brings with it similar eco-system violations due to road building, sediment flow into intertidal zones, and disruption of water flow.

Regardless of their location, critics rightfully decry the rendering of once fertile farmlands into barren wastelands due to salinization from shrimp ponds and related pollutants entering nearby waters.

Why Certify Eco-Friendly? Why Organic?

The importance of uniform and universally accepted standards for both “eco-friendly” and “organic” designations of food products, and for farmed shrimp in specific, is of substantive concern to farmers, retail markets, consumers, NGOs as well as national, regional, and international food supply and safety agencies.  Trustworthy eco-label and organic designations increase the value of farmed shrimp and other commodities.  A universally accepted, credible, and comprehensive set of standards best reflects the credibility of environmentally friendly and/or organic process employed in the production of farmed shrimp.

Eco- and organic labels based on sound standards assure consumers that the shrimp they are considering to purchase are free of unfair employment practices, gender discrimination, child labor, and damage to the environment. Consumer confidence in a specific farm’s product and brand is bolstered.  As a result, premium prices can be charged increasing the product’s economic value for the retailer, the producer, farm workers, and their dependents. The higher prices commanded by eco-friendly and organic shrimp also have the added effect of stimulating competition within the industry to upgrade production standards in order to share in the economic rewards.

One very practical aspect of an export brand of farmed shrimp bearing “organic” certification is the fact that they command unquestioned entry into major retail markets within developed nations.

Who Defines Eco-friendly & Organic Shrimp Standards?

The problem with existing “organic” certification of farmed shrimp is the lack of a universally recognized set of standards for such a designation.  Controversy and a significant degree of consumer confusion arise because of the multitude of certifying organizations and standards applied by each regardless of whether they are national, quasi-national, NGO, consumer, retailer, or producer based.

The numbers of third-party certifiers at any given time are legion: Naturland (Germany), Bio-Suisse (Switzerland), EuroLeaf (European Union), Ecocert (France), UK Soil Association (United Kingdom), Global GAP (European Producers and Retailers), Global Aquaculture Alliance (United States), Quality Certification Services (United States), the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (WWF & the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative –IDH), TheAgricultural and Farm Products Certification Office of Thailand’s Fisheries Department, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).  Each is a competitor of the others in the exact same way as the producers they certify.  Their revenue incentive is in the service they sell.

Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is a trade association created by representatives of aquaculture interests. Global GAP is its European counterpart. Critics within the certifying fraternity discount the quality of both organizations’ standards because of those organizations’ less than arms-length relation to industry.  Accusations that they are less stringent are not without merit. Global GAP is unashamed of that characterization and openly announces on its website that among its objectives is to make organic certification for producers “easier”[50]in order to allow them to reach wider markets.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is one of WWF’s stable of certification arms including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for capture fisheries and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for timber.  ASC is not without its own questionable relations.  ASC, although perceived as environmental NGO-based, is equally tied to industry.  Unilever, the world’s third largest food and consumer goods multi-national corporation, has a chair on the IDH supervisory board while the list of ASC “supporters” is a who’s who of international food, seafood (including Europe’s leading shrimp provider), and aquaculture feed suppliers: Nutreco, Heiploeg, Ahold, Kroger, Edeka, Sysco, Findus Group, Royal Greenland, Birds Eye, etc.[51]

Aside from the natural tension between perceived industry and NGO groups, there is also the rivalry of national affiliations with French, German, Dutch, British, Swiss, and US based groups competing against each other as well as emerging national certification by shrimp producing nations such as Thailand.

To get a more complete view of the magnitude of eco-label issuers, the Consumer’s Union decided to create a dedicated website – The Ecolabel Index – to that end.  It boasts of “currently tracking 438 ecolabels in 197 countries and 25 industry sectors.”[52]That unwieldy mix of labels and certifiers presents a truly daunting and virtually impossible task for consumers to determine whom to believe. The confusion caused by such a jumble of labels and certifying groups is exactly why there should be only one universal certifying agency: The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the food safety arm of FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The  Codex Alimentarius Commission implements the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, whose core mission is to champion consumer safety and global food security through socially just, environmentally sound, and fair-trade stewardship by producers and consumers alike.  Codex is the ideal and truly altruistic source for standards that define specific farmed shrimp as environmentally sustainable and/or organically cultivated via optimally safe, nutritious, and healthful practices without regard to influence from competition, political ideology, or profit motivation.

There simply cannot be a more credible source, than Codex, for such standards and certification necessary to promote consumer confidence and increase value and benefit to the environment and to the millions of individuals worldwide whose livelihoods are tied to farmed shrimp industry. The Codex Committee on Food Labeling laid the foundation for Codex assuming leadership and control over farmed shrimp certification with its Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labeling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods.  That compilation of guidelines wascreated to facilitate trade in organically produced foods and to prevent misleading claims.

The first step to move this recommendation from a suggestion to reality is to present the concept to the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) Sub-Committee on Aquaculture for review and approval.  If acceptable to FAO and WHO, The Codex Alimentarius Commission might then appoint a committee to work with existing third party certifiers to determine a universally acceptable set of standards for both eco-friendly and organic certifications. Truly credible certification requires independent audits, regular follow-up monitoring, enforcement standards as well as an educational component.  Once an agreed upon set of standards is codified, the commission might then tap into existing experience and eliminate organizational and national rivalries by appointing Codex-approved certifying agents from existing groups thereby bringing the myriad of competing organizations under one roof: that of The Codex Alimentarius.  If that process becomes reality then producers, consumers, and the earth itself will have an ecolabel system that provides real benefit to each.

[1]World Bank Brief: Understanding Poverty & Environment: Oceans, Fisheries and Coastal Economies, April 6, 2018

[2]World Aquaculture: Hans Ackefors – The Evolution of a Worldwide Shrimp Industry.

[3]FAO “The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018.(SOFIA 2018) p2

[4]Globefish/FAO, “Increased Production of Farmed Shrimp Leads to Improved International Trade,” Oct. 7, 2017

[5]FAO “The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016 (SOFIA 2016) p64

[6]Future Market Insights Report: Shrimp Market: Farmed Whiteleg Shrimps Species Type to Hold High Market Share Throughout the Forecast Period: Global Industry Analysis (2012-2016) and Opportunity Assessment (2017-2027)

[7]Global Aquaculture Alliance, Anderson, Valderrama, Jory –Shrimp Production Review

[8]Consumer Attitudes Towards Organic Food, Basha, Mason, Shamsudin, Hussain, Salem  25 On line November 2015

[9]“Organic Agriculture -Overview,” Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

[10]US Organic Industry Survey 2018, Organic Trade Association, Washington DC

[11]Europe: Organic Food and Beverage Market Predicted to Reach $39 Billion by 2020, Global Organic Trade Guide, Ibid.

[12]Edwards, Peter and Demaine, Harvey, 1998, Rural Aquaculture: Overview and Framework for Country Reviews, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Definitions, 1.1

[13]“Feeding Farmed Salmon: Is Organic Better?” Pelletier, N, Tydmer, P, Aquaculture 272 (2007) pp 399-416

[14]Willer, Helga and Lukas Kilcher (Eds.), 2011, The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2011. FiBL-IFOAM Report, IFOAM, Bonn and FiBL, Frick p 27

[15]Ibid. 47 & 62 pp

[16]Worldwide Sales of Organic Food:1999 to 2016, Statistica, online

[17]U.S. Organic Trade, US Dept. of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, January 19, 2018

[18] Organic Food & Beverage Market Size Worth $320.5 Billion by 2025, Grand View Research Report April 2017

[19]Organic Market Overview, Ibid.

[20]Food Purchasing and Social Status Perceptions, Taylor and Francis,  Science News, July 18, 2016

[21]“Product ecolabels: To Certify or not to certify” Himmelfarb, N, GreenBiz July 22,2015

[22]“Ecolabel Market to grow by 66% and will become more powerful than regulation, say Danish Researchers,” Burrows, D,, Sept 27, 2016

[23]FAO SOFIA 2018 Op Cit p2   T

[24]FAO “Costs”

[25]“Get Certified: Your Guide to the MSC Chain of Custody Certification Guide,” Marine Stewardship Council publication

[26]“Apply to use the MSC label,” Marine Stewardship Council brochure.

[27]Ethical Consumer, “The MSC label: Conservation or “Bluewashing?” Should we trust the MSC label as a certification scheme for seafood? April 2017

[28]Greenpeace Research Laboratories, Technical Note 01/2009, Dorey, Page, Santillo, Johnston “Gambling with Krill Fisheries in the Antarctic: Large uncertainties equate with high risks, 12 Feb 2009

[29]R. D. Brodeur; G. H. Kruse; P. A. Livingston; G. Walters; J. Ianelli; G. L. Swartzman; M. Stepanenko; T. Wyllie-Echeverria (1998). Draft Report of the FOCI International Workshop on Recent Conditions in the Bering Sea. NOAA. pp. 22–26.

[30]Swedish Society for Conservation of Nature, op. cit. 27-28 pp.

[31]Clay, J., 2004, World Agriculture and the Environment, Shrimp, Environmental Impact of Production: Fish Meal and Oil in Feeds, Island Press 2004 491-512 pp

[32]Naturland, Principals of Organic Aquaculture, (Cited 14 September 2013)

[33]“Truth behind ‘organic’ shrimp farming in Ecuador” YouTube,, Oct. 4, 2011

[34]FAO – SOFIA 2016 Op Cit. 89 pp

[35]Ibid, Forward, 4 pp

[36]FAO, World Food Program (WFP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2012,

[37]FAO, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017

[38]FAO SOFIA 2018 Op Cit pp17-18

[39]International Labour Organization. 2010. Facts on child labour 2010 [online]. Geneva, Switzerland. (Cited 10 September 2013)

[40]FAO and International Labour Organization (ILO) Guidance on Addressing Child Labour in Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012,FAO Rome, ILO Geneva 15-32 pp.

[41]FAO, 2003, World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. An FAO Perspective, Agricultural Land, 4.1

[42]The World Bank, Agriculture & Rural Development, Data, (Cited 11 September 2013), agricultural land sq km&language=EN

[43]Mangrove Action Project (MAP), Shrimp Farming, (Cited 11 September 2013)

[44]Food & Water Watch, Farmed Shrimp: A Devastating Delicacy, (Cited 12 September 2013)

[45]MAP op. cit.

[46]Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), 2000, To Farmed Shrimp, The Advocate 6 pp.  (Cited 13 September 2013)

[47]Berlanga-Robles, C.A., Ruiz-Luna, A., Hernandez-Guzman, R., Impact of Shrimp Farming on Mangrove Forests and Other Coastal Wetlands: the Case of Mexico,Aquaculture and the Environment: A Shared Destiny, Intech, 2011

[48]FAO, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010: Main Report, Forest Area and Forest Change, Rome 11pp.

[49]Berlanga-Robles op. cit. 27 pp.

[50]Global GAP, (Cited 13 September 2013)

[51]Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), (Cited 10 September 2013) www.asc-aqua.orgPartners and Supporters

[52]Ecolabel Index (Cited 13 September 2013)

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