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Joint ASEM-SEAT session at 9th AFAF

  • Special Session 1: Strengthening European-Asian partnerships
  • Thursday, April 21, 2011
  • 14h-16h
  • 9th AFAF
  • Shanghai Ocean University

At the 9th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum (9AFAF) a joint ASEM-SEAT sessions will offer an opportunity for producers, processors and traders to interact with researchers currently engaged at the forefront of Asian aquaculture and shaping future policy. Commercial parties and researchers are encouraged to attend for a briefing from each project and the opportunity to contribute your experience and concerns to the ongoing work.

The session features 4 presentations followed by a discussion:

  • Introduction to the SEAT project
    by Francis Murray, University of Stirling
  • Introduction to the ASEM Aquaculture Platform
    by Jean Dhont, Ghent University
  • Recent alleged contamination with SEM (Semicarbazide) of shipments of shrimp from Bangladesh to EU: issues of traceability, regulatory conflicts and quality control
    by Patrick Sorgeloos, Ghent University
  • Prospects of Pangasius production and trade
    by Dave Little, University of Stirling
  • General discussion
    chaired by Dave Little & Patrick Sorgeloos

Abstract of the sessions

Introduction to the SEAT project
Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade (SEAT) is a large-scale FP7 funded research project, aiming to strengthen the knowledge base surrounding the EU-Asia seafood trade. The project began in August 2009 and is now providing the evidence required to support the trade, and informing its sustainable expansion. A key issue is how seafood value chains can ensure benefits for even the poorest of those involved, a fair deal for producers who are meeting appropriate social and environmental goals and offering a safe and sustainable product for consumers. Concluding a scoping phase of four commodities (shrimp, prawn, pangasius and tilapia) in four countries (China, Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh) a research framework that encompass the variability of the systems has been a key outcome to inform the follow on detailed studies of different aspects of sustainability. A global value chain approach has proved essential to unify the multiple aspects of sustainability that the project is attempting to understand, using Life Cycle analysis as a core tool adapted to the needs of the dynamic and fast evolving production systems. The project takes a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach, addressing a diverse range of topics including environmental impacts, impacts of trade on local livelihoods and public health, food safety concerns including contaminants and traceability, and barriers to trade.

Introduction to the ASEM Aquaculture Platform
In the last couple of decades, aquaculture has evolved from an artisanal farming sector to a technology-based bio-industry. While current aquaculture technology often originates from European led developments, the principal production is very predominantly in Asia. As a consequence, also RTD excellence is steadily growing in Asia. In order to reconcile mutual Asian-European interests in production & consumption, a dialogue on a common research strategy serving sustainable, safe and healthy aquaculture production is essential. The ASEM Aquaculture Platform, established in 2003 and supported by FP7, will develop valuable partnerships, using the driver of consumer needs and expectations to improve product processes, quality and value in both markets.

Recent alleged contamination with SEM (Semicarbazide) of shipments of shrimp from Bangladesh to EU: issues of traceability, regulatory conflicts and quality control
In the aftermath of a series of Rapid Alerts for contamination with SEM (Semicarbazide) of shipments of shrimp form Bangladesh, the Bangladesh government has improved its quality control systems and meanwhile scientific studies were commissioned to understand the nature of the contamination incidences. Two separate studies were performed, one with support of SIPA on the natural presence of illegal antibiotic markers in crustaceans and another independent research program was conducted by the University of Belfast in wild caught Giant freshwater shrimps. The SIPA supported programme was performed by Ghent University in laboratory grown shrimps and in wild caught crustaceans. The results indicate that caution should be taken in the interpretation of SEM detection. This also raises questions about the righteous application of ever more performing analytic methods and its impact on trade restrictions.

Whitefish wars: who will win and why it matters
The recent media coverage of pangasius imports into Europe reflect an increasing acrimonious debate around the trade-offs of protecting European livelihoods based on fisheries and aquaculture and meeting consumers’ needs. This dialogue is analysed from the positions adopted by various stakeholders and framed in a rapidly changing environment in terms of purchasing power and trends in global trade. Claims aiming to denigrate the product in terms of its environmental and social credentials are assessed and the emerging roles of certification and certifying organisations critiqued. The longer term negative consequences of this trade disputes are considered.