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Standards finalised for catfish farming   2010-03-07 - VietNamNet/VNS

The standards for breeding catfish were finalised and approved at the last meeting of the "pangasius aquaculture dialogue" in southern Can Tho City yesterday.

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The meeting discussed feedback received from 170 people on the draft standards for responsible pangasius farming during the initiative's public comment period.

The final standards are expected to minimise negative environmental and social impacts associated with pangasius farming.

"There's a huge demand for farmed pangasius in the marketplace, but what is missing in the marketplace is a credible label for environmentally-friendly pangasius," said Dr. Flavio Corsin of World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), coordinator of the dialogue.

"The ‘pangasius dialogue standards' will be the best way to fill that gap," he said.

Following the meeting, the dialogue's technical working group and the process management group will incorporate final changes into a document.

Significant changes have already been made to reflect the input received from 140 people during the first of the two public comment periods, as well as meetings with small-scale pangasius farmers in Viet Nam and Bangladesh who will be directly impacted by the final standards.

"We've received a lot of suggestions during this process – which is a clear indication that people see the need for a robust set of pangasius standards," said Dr. Mohammad Mahfujul Haque of the Department of Aquaculture, Bangladesh Agricultural University, who coordinates a technical working group for the dialogue.

"It's exciting to be in the final stage of using all of the feedback to create a final product that will help improve the way we farm pangasius," he added.

Final standards are expected within approximately two months after the final dialogue meeting.

The first Aquaculture Dialogue standards – for tilapia – were unveiled in December. Standards from five additional dialogues are expected to be completed in 2010.

The Aquaculture Dialogues, a group of eight multi-stakeholder roundtables, are coordinated by WWF and include more than 2,000 participants.

All of the dialogue 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.

The "pangasius Dialogue" process began in 2007 and brought together more than 400 producers, conservationists, government officials, academics and others interested in aquaculture.

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