Shrimp Industry not fazed by ASC suspensions
Saturday, May 13th, 2017
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has suspended several shrimp farm exports due to an Early Mortality Symptoms (EMS) outbreak. Despite the threat to Belize’s shrimp industry, some farmers are indicating that they had opted out of the ASC audit and their performance would not be affected.
The ASC is an independent, non-profit organization, which sets standards for sustainable aquaculture. The shrimp farms in Belize had their ASC certifications suspended include Paradise Shrimp Farm, Tex Mar Farm and Tropical Aquaculture Investment Farm. Due to lingering effects of a 2015 EMS outbreak, they were unable to undergo a planned surveillance audit, and will now have to re-start the process of registration.
Alvin Henderson, President of Belize Shrimp Growers Association told the media that the suspension does not affect their business. “Our clients, our buyers know our status. They know who is certified and who is not. That’s not a big deal,” he said.
He explained that the farms that did not meet the requirements for their certification, as claimed by ASC, simply did not participate in the yearly audit. “The issue for those farms who chose not to be audited is that they might not have exclusive access to top markets. However, they can still export,” said Henderson.
The shrimp industry suffered a crisis in 2016, when all farms were almost wiped out by a bacterial infection. However, the industry has big plans for this year. “We are forecasting nearly $40 million dollars in revenue for the industry,” said Henderson. “That is mature recovery, considering that last year the revenue was less than $12 million.”
When the Honourable Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture visited a few of the shrimp farms in November of 2016, he expressed optimism for the industry in the country. “The shrimp look really good. There are poised to export again. In fact the Henderson’s farm should begin exporting to Mexico… this is exciting news for the industry,” Hulse said at that time.
Shrimp farmers in Belize are looking forward for a successful season as shrimp production and exportation is expected to pick up after June.
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