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Global Salmon Aquaculture Standards Released for Public Comment

More than 500 People Involved in the Standards Development Process

WASHINGTON, DC: Draft standards to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the salmon aquaculture industry were released today for the first of two public comment periods.

They are the product of the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue, a 500-person roundtable that includes salmon aquaculture industry leaders, scientists and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

The salmon Dialogue seeks to minimize or eliminate the key negative impacts associated with salmon aquaculture, such as sea lice spreading from salmon farms, escaped farmed salmon interbreeding with wild salmon populations, and conflicts within communities regarding shared coastal resources.  Salmon aquaculture is responsible for producing two-thirds of the salmon consumed worldwide. The remaining salmon is wild-caught.

The standards, which are expected to be finalized in approximately six months, will be the first global standards for salmon aquaculture created through an open, transparent process that is aligned with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance’s renowned guidelines for creating standards. The process encourages input from a broad and diverse group of people and ensures that their ideas will be considered by the full Dialogue.

“One of our priorities has been getting as many people as possible engaged in the process so that we can tap into their expertise and on-the-ground experiences,” said Katherine Bostick of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who coordinates the Dialogue. “This is reflected in the draft standards document, which includes innovative standards that will help change the way salmon is farmed worldwide.”

Numerous multi-day Dialogue meetings geared toward sharing information and discussing ideas on how to shape the standards have been held in key salmon producing regions – including Norway, Chile, Scotland and British Columbia – since the process began in 2004. Also, feedback was provided during public comment periods held in 2008 and 2009 to vet the draft principles, criteria and indicators, as well as outreach meetings over the last several years with salmon industry stakeholders. Experts assisted, as needed, in evaluating salmon-related science to help shape the draft standards.

“We’ve come a long way and are excited about the progress that has been made in creating the standards,” added Petter Arnesen of Marine Harvest, a member of the nine-person Steering Committee that manages the Dialogue process. “The Steering Committee is eager to get feedback during this comment period that will help us revise the standards and wrap up the process.”

The first comment period will end on October 3, 2010. The second comment period will begin approximately two months later.

The start of the public comment period is a major milestone for the Aquaculture Dialogues, a set of eight roundtables working to create measurable and performance-based standards for responsible aquaculture. Six sets of draft standards (pangasius, freshwater trout, abalone, shrimp, bivalves and salmon) are in the process of being reviewed or finalized and one set of standards (tilapia) is finalized. All of the standards are expected to be completed within approximately six months.

The standards will be amended periodically to reflect changes in science and technology, as well as to encourage innovation and continuous improvement. These revisions will be coordinated by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), the new entity being developed to manage the standards, and the process will include many of the Dialogue participants.

For more information about the salmon Dialogue and to provide feedback during the public comment period, go to www.worldwildlife.org/salmondialogue

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