Today with a relatively low budget, using digital marketing, and through influencers, powerful messages can be sent to the seafood market, showing the environmental danger for the world to continue consuming seafood that does not have a certificate of ecological and social sustainability.
Despite all the efforts made by NGOs, certifying companies, private certifiers, and activists promoting sustainable production practices in the aquaculture industry, the two largest sustainability certification groups, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA-BAP) aquaculture best practice standards, only account for 3% of global aquaculture production.
The low level of compliance has been attributed to lack of resources to invest in changes and adaptations to sustainability standards, low demand for certified products in the market, low availability of consumers to pay more for these products, low levels of literacy, and inadequate administrative skills required to monitor and prepare reports, and environmental risks of production outside the control of the producer, according to a recent publication that analyzes the development of aquaculture in the last twenty years.
The challenge is not easy. The causes that maintain such a low level of world aquaculture production certificate are not situations that can be solved in the short and medium-term, nor with speed required by a world in full exploitation of its natural resources.
All the financial resources needed to convert current production to sustainable production must come from the market demand. No money will come from governments, banks, NGOs, and aquaculture companies, which with difficulties remain afloat as they are.
The opportunity is at seafood suppliers and distributors; they are in the service business, not the primary sector, as fish farmers are. However, these companies that supply and distribute seafood are closer to the market and are the ones who have the potential to send the sustainability message further into consumer communities.
To spread the word, we have to make consumers aware of the importance of consuming products with sustainability certification. Today there are many communication channels to send these messages, which primary producers are far from knowing or using. Still, supply and distribution companies have these communications tools closer and may have the resources to use them.
Salvador Meza is Editor & Publisher of Aquaculture Magazine, and of the Spanish language industry magazine Panorama Acuicola.