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IDB commends Belize for shrimp industry standards

IDB commends Belize for shrimp industry standards
September 14
09:45 2019

Friday, Sept. 13th. 2019 –

A new report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) highlights Belize as being the world’s “most ethical and sustainable” shrimp producers as farmers in the country have improved the quality of shrimp production in the country over the last few years.

According to the report, “globally the shrimp industry is plagued with problems including the use of forced child labor throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.” Large scale production can also lead to environmental damage. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that around the world, 87% of wild fish and shellfish populations are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted.

The IDB says the most sustainable alternatives are aquaculture farms, which can release massive amounts of pollutants into the environment if not properly managed. The global shrimp farming industry has grown rapidly in the last two decades producing 1 million tons of shrimp in 2000 to 5 million tons in 2015. It is expected to grow another 5.7 percent in the next decade.

To standardize the global industry, the World Wildlife Fund convened several organizations from around the world and created a working group which established the Aquaculture Stewardship Program, an international body which certifies and distinguishes companies that adhere to high standards of social responsibility. The ASC requirements are so strict that no more than 20 percent of farms worldwide would be able to meet the standards. Yet in Belize, over 90 percent of the country’s shrimp farms have been ASC certified.

The Belize Shrimp Growers Association (BSGA) has been able to achieve this with support from Compete Caribbean, the IDB, the UK Department for International Development, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Canada.

“Prior to this project, these niche markets in Europe, the United States, and Canada would have been inaccessible,” Alvin Henderson, president of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association said. “The fact that orders came from as far away as Belgium did not surprise us. With the certification, we expected that the European market, especially the British one, would look for our product. We were right,” he says.

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