Friday, October 8, 2010


Globalization of trade requires harmonized standards and protocols and in agriculture and food, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UNO has done yeomen service during the last 3-4 decades. These standards also help in settling trade disputes between member countries under the WTO regime. Latest instance of global cooperation is exemplified by the consensus evolved on guidelines for aquaculture production without affecting the ecological balance. Since almost all major players in the field have agreed to the consensus, these guidelines and certification system are likely become universal.

"The guidelines, finalised after four years of consultation and debate among governments, producers, traders and processors, have been adopted by the sub-committee of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on aquaculture. Over 50 countries attended the meeting of sub-committee, which is the only global inter-governmental forum discussing aquaculture development, an FAO statement said. The guidelines, which are non-binding, will now go to the committee on fisheries when it meets in Rome in January 2011 for approval, it added. If the guidelines are followed in full by countries, certification will enable consumers standing at the fish counter to know whether the shrimp they are considering buying were raised without damaging a coastal mangrove swamp, whether the fish farm worker was paid a fair wage, and whether the shell fish is free of contamination. Although aquatic animal health and food safety issues have been subjected to certification and international compliance for many years, the new guidelines mark the first time animal welfare, environmental issues and socio-economic aspects have been subjected to compliance or certification. "These guidelines have been developed to bring some harmony to what is the fastest growing food sector in the world," said FAO aquaculture expert Rohana Subasinghe. World fish production was 143.6 million tonnes in 2006. India produces about 6.57 million tonne fish every year".

It is not that international guidelines were not existing earlier because country to country trade in fish was always according to safety standards monitored by internationally
accepted consultants based on pre-agreed product specifications. What the present effort has achieved is to weave into the product specifications other factors like environmental impact, social and economic factors concerning the aquaculture workers and status of contamination of the products. A discerning consumer will now be able to choose a fish product that has done no damage to the mangroves, is free from contamination and was produced with workers earning fair wages.


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