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Sustainable trade in ethical aquaculture

Final Report Summary - SEAT (Sustainable trade in ethical aquaculture)

Executive Summary:

The Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade (SEAT) project has used an interdisciplinary science approach to assemble a comprehensive knowledge base about Asian aquaculture and its sustainability characteristics. Focusing on four key species (shrimp, prawn, tilapia and pangasius) in four countries (Bangladesh, China Thailand and Vietnam), the consortium which included local Asian, European, and International partners have sought to influence a highly dynamic private sector and policy environment. The project set out to achieve mutual benefits to both ends of the farmed seafood value chains that link Asian producers to consumers in the EU through a participative stakeholder-led research process with a strong policy influencing agenda.
Europe’s dependence on imported seafood, increasingly farmed and from Asia, was a key driver as was the aquaculture sector being a major source of employment and economic benefit to the Asian countries concerned. Developing an in-depth understanding of the value chains was based on a series of integrated scoping activities where boundaries were set and detailed follow-on research priorities agreed, many of which crossed disciplinary divides. The in-depth field work, ranging over 1600 individual farming enterprises, and countless other sources of primary information sought to establish representative data sets from which broader recommendations around a range of sustainability issues could be based. A range of factors that included climatic, political and personal, constrained data collection however the hard work and diligence of the consortium’s cadre of Asian and European field staff working in the project ensured the best achievable result was obtained. The information obtained from the beginning has been subject to scrutiny and criticism from a range of stakeholders, including many of those providing the data, project colleagues and independent academic peers.
The sustainability perspectives encompassed by the research ranged from analyses of contamination, public health impact risks, and environmental impacts from local pollution to global impacts of resource utilisation (Life Cycle Analysis). These have been complimented by enquiry into the ethics and governance of the value chains themselves and the implications for social and economic outcomes.
The dynamic nature of the farmed seafood trade between Asia and Europe, increasingly influenced by private standards, led to a continuous review process of opportunities and reflection of our work’s relevance. Latterly as our knowledge of the systems and the sustainability challenges became clearer, the project moved into an action research phase working closely with MSMEs and other organisations to focus on specific knowledge gaps and issues ranging from understanding constraints to farmers keeping good records, to assessing promising strategies to control on off flavour in tilapia to improving traceability of shrimp supply chains in Bangladesh to give three examples.
The outcomes of this research has led to a wide range of messages, tools and contributions to science and society, not least of which has been the development of an Ethical Aquatic Food Index (EAFI) developed iteratively by the consortium with a range of potential users. The quality of the research can be validated both by the large number of peer reviewed journal articles already published or accepted (25+) and the vitality and frequency of social media interactions.

Project Context and Objectives:

(For Boxes and Figures referred to please see attached pdf of Project Context and Objectives)
The Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade (SEAT) project set out to support the emergent trade in farmed seafood between Asia and Europe through joined up, interdisciplinary science . This has necessarily encouraged a value chain approach to the design and implementation of project activities and a participative stakeholder-led research process.

The first objective of the project was to gain an in depth understanding of selected food chains from a holistic systems perspective through an interdisciplinary approach.

The second objective was to develop improved and transparent measures of sustainability for the same food production systems. The methodological approach uses a range of tools including LCA to develop a holistic framework. This was underpinned by an ethical understanding developed and informed by tools which combines expert and stakeholder participation, leading to development of improved, transparent standards through refinement of an Ethical Aquatic Food Index (EAFI). These initially aimed to contribute to on-going World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - mediated stakeholder dialogues aiming to enhance sustainability in aquaculture but quickly developed into a broader, multiple stakeholder approach to supporting development of more sustainable and ethical standards.

The third objective was to improve the sustainability ‘values’ of these commodities through research with MSMES involved in production and marketing network in four countries in Asia.

A summary description of the project objectives

• Develop improved and transparent measures of sustainability for target aquatic food systems through creation of an Ethical Aquaculture Food Index (EAFI)
• Gain and disseminate an in depth understanding of emergent Asian aquatic food production/market chains through inter-disciplinary effort
• Enhance the sustainability and ethical ‘values’ of four major aquatic food commodities including examination of environmental services, economic efficiency, social justice, food quality and safety and animal welfare
• Enhance farmed aquatic food, scientific, business and policy linkages between Asia and Europe

Project Context

Since the inception of the project in 2009 the farmed seafood trade between Europe and Asia has continued to develop and evolve. This dynamic can partly be explained by endogenous development towards more sustainable and efficient systems under the considerable competition that exists within each context and also through the influence of outside forces. Assessment of the four products (brackish- water shrimp, freshwater prawn, river catfish and tilapia) produced in four countries (Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and China) gave the project the scope and variability of aquaculture required to produce a substantive assessment of the trade from a regional perspective. The project set out to challenge the orthodoxy through a comprehensive and coherent sample framing of the key issues. Both secondary and primary data was collected for analysis that could inform and, if necessary, challenge the myths and uncertainties that currently dominate debate.

Trends and shocks
A number of key trends and shocks impacting on the farmed seafood trade between Europe and Asia were evident from the project inception that have led to a proactive research and communication stance being taken by the consortium and the need for flexibility in dealing with key stakeholders. Early in the project cycle a journalist reporting on the Thai shrimp sector in a popular US based magazine (Box 1) caused the first of several high profile anti-aquaculture polemics that immediately hardened local attitudes to research in the sector. It resulted in difficulties for our local partner, Kasetsart University (implicated in the specific article) in leveraging interest and even access to shrimp farms. This increased the efforts required to establish trust with stakeholders locally and the time and resources used to that end.

At a similar point in the project cycle, the farmed catfish industry was under criticism in Europe from orchestrated lobbyists working to reduce its impact on EU markets for white fish. Both environmental organisations such as WWF and prominent politicians such as MEP Struan Stevenson (Box 2) were challenged with SEAT project data and an extended dialogue was prioritised with them that has resulted in some significant moves to more positive engagement (Box 2 and 3).
Since the project inception, trends in farmed seafood trade with Europe have generally been influenced by the global recession and most growth has been tempered by low consumer confidence. Shrimp production and margins had been under pressure when a shrimp disease, EMS (early mortality syndrome) or acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome (AHPNS) began moving through the region, beginning in China but spreading to Vietnam and Thailand that reduced supply and firmed prices. This event highlighted the paramount importance of economic sustainability for producers and their vulnerability to such phenomenon. The exposure of Asian producers to downturns in European demand were also indicated by poor returns to pangasius producers and processors in the Mekong Delta and development of alternative markets. In contrast tilapia exports, particularly from China, have shown steady growth from a much lower base although medium term projections look unfavourable from that country. This is partly related to growth in demand for all categories of farmed seafood within Asia, especially for shrimp in China and these trends suggest that regional demand is likely to impact on prices in Europe. The EU market has substantially changed during the last four years as a range of farmed seafood certified to various international standards has come on the market (Box 4).
Part of the momentum behind certification is concern about the environmental and social impacts of food produced distant to its consumption and the impact of poor practice on the reputation of supermarkets. This concern took central stage during a period where poor labelling practice and food fraud have had high profile across the EU (Box 5).

This has heightened interest in food qualities generally and concerns over contamination of farmed seafood in particular. Typically based on spurious or limited information and linked to assumed poor environmental management or negative social outcomes, criticism has been commonplace.

A key need for the SEAT project has therefore been to engage with key stakeholders with contrary views and agendas while assembling a coherent knowledge base regarding the sustainability and ethics of production and trade. The project focus on assessing public health risks and environmental impacts at both local and global levels has been critical and allowed the project to influence policy and practice in both Asia and Europe. It has also allowed project consortium partners to play active roles in various fora, and indirectly to influence their outcomes through publication in high impact publications.

The information asymmetries that have long been evident between, and within, producer and consumer groups have tended to exacerbate concerns over the qualities of farmed seafood in Europe and this has led to the consortium taking a proactive approach to sharing knowledge through the value chains. Further rapid growth in virtual knowledge networks, including internet and social media has occurred during the project cycle and this has led to efforts to engage through local language media

The dynamic of the production sector in Asia, once legitimately characterised as wholly smallholder, has evolved rapidly in some contexts towards greater consolidation and larger enterprises that are often vertically integrated. However although trends towards more intensification and specialisation of production, and other value chain activities has occurred, there is also evidence for some sectors to become more extensive and diversified A better understanding of the intrinsic value of these different scales and modes of production has been a focus for many of the project component work packages The challenges to seafood buyers that such heterogeneity imposes has become more obvious as the project has progressed and the consortium has sought has sought to proactively respond to meet the knowledge gaps.

Increasing competition among the main certifiers as well as, under pressure from customers, some degree off harmonisation has occurred as standards have begun to impact on the sector during the project cycle. Ocean conservation NGOs and media scrutiny intensified during the project period in response to concerns about over-exploitation of marine resources and a significant dependence of the EU on imported seafood. In parallel, and somewhat in contradiction, health advisories have continued to be issued as to the benefits of seafood consumption on human health and the dietary importance of n-3 HUFA that seafood contribute.

The ethical dilemmas of inequality of power in seafood value chains and emerging market-based certification systems have also become more apparent over the last five years since the project was conceived and designed. Fault-lines in the certification terrain have emerged as Governments have in some cases sought to reduce the influence of, or regain control over, externally controlled standards.

The broader context of the aquaculture-fisheries continuum may also have reached a critical juncture. As continuation of the growth rates of aquaculture over the last decades begin to look uncertain, major changes in fishery governance, especially through co-management approaches may herald more effective management and stabilisation of wild stocks

Project Results:
Science and Technology
(For Boxes, Tables and Figures referred to in this text please see attached pdf of Science and Technology where they can be viewed in relation to the associated text )
Sustainability and Aquaculture Value Chains - A Broader View

A number of major issues and trends emerged during the project that gave increased importance to the new knowledge generated by the SEAT project regarding the sustainable trade in farmed seafood between Asia and Europe. The World was first impacted by the first major recession of the Millennium, which affected consumption in major importers of seafood in Europe, North America and East Asia and at the same time society reawakened to the spectre of challenged global food security in the light of escalating food prices, growing consumption and deteriorating ecosystems.

A growing shortfall in the supply of seafood in Europe that is being met by imported products, increasingly farmed and from Asia, and concerns about its sustainability was the important backdrop to the SEAT project. A major driver of seafood governance, the rise of international, third- party certification schemes have seen further growth and consolidation during the duration of the project. The links between unsustainable fishing of natural stocks and growing importance of aquaculture have become ever-more entwined, especially as high profile NGO, political and media campaigns have successfully linked them in the minds of many consumers. Competition between different certifiers has led to additional costs for producers and confusion among consumers and producers alike but more recently some level of cooperation on key areas such as the use of marine ingredients in feeds and various benchmarking initiatives may lead to harmonisation. In general a narrow, single or at least a focused issue –traceability and food safety, environment or human or animal welfare have evolved into broader standards although all still lack comprehensive sustainability assessment as identified during the conceptualisation of SEAT. The current limited impact of standards globally (Figure 1) reflects major differences in perceptions of sustainability and interest and the challenge to certifiers for them to have real global impacts, given the dominance for aquaculture to meet local food security rather than export to developed country markets (Bush et al, 2013). The importance of a zonal approach to improved sustainability has been a key outcome of SEAT research that has led to increasing interest (see impacts section).

A major impediment to a comprehensive understanding of sustainability of farmed Asian seafood was an understanding of the characteristics and key descriptors of the systems themselves that incorporated the concept of the value chain and the broader environments in which they are located. As with most human activity, the distribution of aquaculture enterprises is not random but rather clustered in favourable conditions. The analysis of the geography of export-oriented aquaculture in the four countries suggests that enterprise clusters are typical as aquaculture is concentrated in favourable locations. In the case of China temperature sensitivity is a major factor in the distribution of shrimp and tilapia farming along with suitable water quality and access to port facilities. Production for export is typically much more geographically concentrated suggesting the importance of favourable ambient temperature regimes for competitive production and the proximity to processors and export hubs. Even within Guangdong Province, export oriented production tends to be concentrated close to the processing and export hub of the Leizhou Peninsula (Figure 2). Note Figures can be viewed in the attched pdf Science and Technology

Figure 2: Tilapia (a) produced in, and (b) exported from China by province (Zhang, 2014)

Proximity and access to processing capacity has been important for the Thai shrimp industry. The major processing hubs are found in Provinces in the Upper Gulf that serviced the wild capture and shrimp culture, which was originally located there, and increasingly the South where culture has increased
(Figure 3).

The persistence of a range of intensification and scale of operation is also a key characteristic of export orientated Asian aquaculture. Although Asian aquaculture has been labelled as being dominated by smallholder producers and the numbers of farmers remains high in some country/species combinations, levels of consolidation have been much more extreme in some contexts. The pangasius sector in Vietnam has consolidated rapidly, with loss of very small farms from the sector and significant growth in a much smaller number of larger, specialised and highly productive farms
(Figure 4).

The consolidation of the sector is an outcome of both the growth of larger farms and particularly the farming of pangasius by processing companies becoming involved themselves. In 2009, farms larger than 5ha already made up more than a quarter of catfish production area (26%, 1554 ha, Phan, 2014) but by 2012 the eleven largest pangasius processors now directly farmed around 35% of total catfish farmed area (Fisheries Directorate 2013a).

In China most tilapia enterprises remain small and family run businesses; fish culture is typically one of several livelihoods contributing on average only 35% of total household income (Kruijssen 2014). There may be significant sustainability advantages to smallholders remaining central to the sector. Life Cycle Analysis conducted within the SEAT project indicated smaller tilapia enterprises tend to achieve higher feeding efficiencies; and lower impacts over a range of impact categories in China (Zhang, 2014). An analysis of efficiencies in the Vietnamese pangasius sector, based on data envelopment analysis, showed that as farm area increased farms initially become more efficient up to a certain threshold (15-18ha) before declining
(Figure 5).
Larger scale enterprises following more standardised practice to facilitate greater traceability that is increasingly demanded by supermarket and food service buyers in export markets. This remains a particular challenge for contexts such as Southeast Bangladesh where large numbers of poor farmers and other value chain members are dependent on extensive shrimp culture and traceability remains problematic (Murray et al, 2014).

Figure 6: distribution of farm enterprise by scale for tilapia and shrimp at research sites, China (Zhang, 2014)

Table 1: Characteristics of shrimp production intensity and yield (Murray 2013)

Figure 7: Seat project research sites in four Asian countries
The sustained trade in farmed seafood between Asia and Europe has been challenged by another major strand of anti-trade rhetoric i.e. the claims that consumption of farmed seafood in Asia carries health risks to European consumers (Little et al., 2012). An analysis of data published by the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feeds (RASSF) indicated that the frequency of various contaminants being found in the major farmed seafood from Vietnam had declined significantly compared to wild caught seafood (Figure 8a), especially if the relative volumes imported were considered (Figure 8b).

Figure 8a: EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feeds (RASFF) food safety notifications for pangasiid catfish and other seafood groups exported from Vietnam to the EU-27 group of countries, 1998 to June 2011 Little et al, 2012.

Figure 8b: RASSF notifications per 1000 Mt of pangasiid catfish and other seafood groups imported from Vietnam to the EU-27 group of countries, 1998 to June 2010, Little eta l, 2012.

This is not unexpected as the Vietnamese pangasius and shrimp farming industries have evolved greatly in the last decade. Similar trends have been found for both China and Thailand. The adoption of better management practices, which has only partly been in response to certification, and consolidation under pressures of competition selling to global markets, has served to reduce contamination in which most independent studies have found to be extremely low. In contrast although notifications for high trophic wild fish such as tuna and sword fish have also declined, safety performance remains well behind farmed products, particularly for heavy metals.

These trends, drawn from the EU secondary data (RASFF), have led to critical further reappraisal of risks during the SEAT project; understanding the use and fate of chemical and biological products entering aquaculture systems and the resultant risks to human health and the environment has been a major research thrust. The pace of change in the farmed seafood sector has meant that, notwithstanding the positive trends presented above, the industry ‘struggled to keep up’ during the first decade of the Millennium (Liu et al., 2010). Food safety incidences where drug residues had been identified and black listing of specific processors or temporary national bans enforced (Murray et al., 2012) damaged the reputation of farmed seafood in international markets and raised awareness of the issue among domestic consumers. This has been particularly the case in China where domestic demand for farmed shrimp and imports from the rest of Asia became a significant phenomenon during the project (Zhang et al, 2014).

Critically the project identified a key need for review of the EUs own testing processes to ensure appropriate and consistent processes for farmed seafood that are fully harmonised with Codex standards and accepted Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) (Karunasagar, 2014). Recent examples point to confused application of Codex standards regarding rejections; and the resultant amplification of misleading advice to consumers. The presence of Listeria monocytogenes in raw frozen seafood, when the regulations only apply to cooked, led to unwarranted rejections of seafood by some countries. A further case relates to rejections based on the presence of ethoxyquin, a compound that is an approved feed additive and for which human health risks have been thoroughly assessed; some countries have unilaterally applied a zero tolerance of the chemical to shrimp imports even though the levels concerned would result in acceptable daily intakes way below internationally agreed limits. These cases are distinct from recent fraud cases (e.g. ‘horsegate’) that have further concerned consumers and raised the issue of trust, standards and compliance along lengthy value chains calling for further pressure for intensified testing.

The main findings of SEAT suggest that food safety issues and hazards related to seafood imports from Asia are better than media reports suggest although rising expectations and the dynamic of the sector means that there is still room for improvement, and also for constant vigilance. Regulations and recommendations of prudent use practices of chemicals and drugs are overall in place in the SEAT exporting countries, however there is still room for improvement in how antimicrobials and other chemicals are used in the segment of farmers currently not attached to the export value chain (Dalsgaard et al 2014) Note this was later further explored in SEATs Action Research looking into the propensity for small to medium scale Chinese tilapia farmers to keep records. Further increases in the volume of quality seafood available to EU would need consideration of how to build capacity to lift currently non-compliant farmers up to the standard required.

Major areas of research were conducted into the risks associated with Salmonella, Food-borne zoonotic trematodes, FZT), antimicrobial resistance, chemicals and antimicrobials, probiotics, heavy metals and toxins and occupational health hazards:

Salmonella spp. is one of the most significant food-borne pathogens and its presence in farmed and wild seafood is a clear indication of faecal pollution. However there was no significant difference between levels (mean of 50% of culture ponds) found in systems integrated with livestock (tilapia in China) and those without livestock. In Vietnam, the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella spp. was determined in wild-caught and farmed black tiger and white-leg shrimp delivered at processing factories in the Mekong Delta.

Sampling points Number samples/Latin name No. of Salmonella positive samples (P %) No. of Salmonella isolates (n)
Extensive farms 16/ P. monodon 4 (25) 20
Intensive farms 17/ P. monodon 2 (12) 10
Intensive farms 15/ L. vannamei 5 (33) 25
Overall for Intensive farms 32 (P. monodon and L. vannamei) 7 (22) 35
Overall 48 11 (23) 55
Table 2: Prevalence of Salmonella spp. in wild-caught and cultured shrimp in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

A total of 11 shrimp samples contained Salmonella spp. and the overall prevalence was 23%. Twenty-five per cent of samples from extensive farms contained Salmonella spp. compared to 22% of samples from intensive farms contained Salmonella spp. Our findings indicate a rather high Salmonella spp. contamination rate of shrimp irrespective of production type. Follow-up studies are needed to elucidate risk factors for such contamination.

Food-born trematodes
The production of seafood through farming rather than wild capture may significantly reduce health risks to consumers. Food-borne zoonotic trematodes(FZT) were found to be common in wild-caught fish in both Thailand and China where more than half of fish sampled (53.3. and 59.6% respectively) were found to be infected in two linked studies (Wiriya et al, 2013; Li et al 2013). Infections in farmed tilapia were, in contrast, low with less than 10% being infected in Thailand and only 1.5% being infected in China.

The two studies indicate that tilapia from aquaculture has fewer infections than their equivalent wild counterparts and that FZT’s to some extent can be controlled through improving aquaculture farm management. It should be noted that infections are less likely in fish from farms that produce only a single (monoculture) or a few commercial species together with formulated feed inputs as compared with fish from the more traditional “integrated systems”.

These findings correspond well with another SEAT study in Vietnam, where trematode infection in farmed fish was controlled through a set of on-farm intervention strategies. Here it was shown that by implementing low-tech management practices aimed at preventing fish infections, the intensity of trematode infections was reduced by 91.7% in ponds where interventions were carried out (Clausen et al., 2013).

For the European consumer the food safety risks related to fish-borne zoonotic trematodes in fish from Asia are very low. The vast majority of the tilapia exported to Europe is frozen and as the FZT metacerceriae are inactivated during such prolonged freezing such frozen fillets does not represent a food safety risk to the consumers. According to the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA), freezing and storing is sufficient to kill the parasites. However, the EU promotes a holistic approach to food safety, encompassing all the steps in the value chain from “farm-to-fork”: or in aquaculture from “pond-to-plate“. Research on farm level in Asia therefore is highly relevant not only for the consumers in Asia but also for the consumers in EU, who enjoy eating high quality Asian seafood.

Antimicrobial resistance
Intensified aquaculture uses antimicrobials for disease control and the use may lead to antimicrobial resistant fish/shrimp pathogens and resistance among the bacterial flora in the products. Antimicrobial resistant bacteria in foods represent a potential health hazard as the genes encoding resistance may be transmitted to human pathogens or the gut microflora following consumption of the products. In contrast to in livestock, E. coli and enterococci are not part of the normal gastro-intestinal flora of fish and shrimp and therefore not suitable indicators of antimicrobial resistance in seafood. Results of a study of raw frozen cultured and wild-caught imported seafood marketed in Danish supermarkets (Uddin et al, 2013) indicated that identification of a single bacterial species naturally present in all seafood at point of harvest that can be used to monitor antimicrobial resistance is unlikely. The bacterial flora found likely represents a processing microflora rather than the flora of the fish because of repeated exposure of raw material to different types of water solutions during processing. An outcome of the study is the identified need for methods and appropriate indicators to determine how antimicrobials used in aquaculture affects resistance in retailed products, e.g. quantitative PCR of resistance genes.

The widespread use of probiotics in Asian aquaculture has raised issues as to their efficacy and their potential role in transmission of antimicrobial resistance. A SEAT study of seven commercial probiotics products commonly used by Vietnamese shrimp farmers revealed that all of the studied products contained bacterial species that were not described on the package label. Contaminants like Aerococcus spp. and Klebsiella spp. were also identified in one product. High levels of antimicrobial resistance was observed in Bacillus spp. and Aerococcus spp.. Multi-drug resistance to CHL, CLIN, ERY, PEN, TET, AMP, CIP, GEN and SXT was observed in 19 (32%) of isolates. The analysis of the bacterial composition shows that there is a need to ensure correct labeling of probiotic products and the quality of the products. It remains to be determined to what extend the presence of resistance genes in probiotic bacterial strains can be horizontally transmitted and if such transfer represent environmental and health risks. In a separate study in Thailand, probiont isolates were isolated and characterized from areas that culture Nile tilapia. Based on initial screening of the effectiveness of isolates to inhibit growth of three pathogenic bacteria (Aeromonas hydrophila, Flavobacterium columnare and Streptococcus agalactiae), nine candidate probiotics were selected for further testing to reduce transport-related mortality of juveniles usually experiencing severe disease caused by F. columnare. Probiotic B3 and B4 exhibited high protection of fish fry from this infectious disease, reducing mortality rates to 4.44+1.50 and 5.11+3.36% respectively compared with controls experiencing 45.67+11.36% after transportation and keeping the fry for 23 days (P<0.05). The findings indicate that probiotic bacteria can provide measurable benefits and potentially reduce use and hazards associated with application of antimicrobials and other chemicals.

Occupational health
Studies in Vietnam and China revealed that most small-scale and nursery farmers had direct skin contact with chemicals when mixing antimicrobials into feed with their bare hands. In Vietnam, all large-scale farmers, but only 40-50% of small-scale farmers, used protective measures, mainly gloves and masks, when handling chemicals. Masks used were mainly dust masks that provided little protection to gaseous toxicants such as chlorine-based disinfectants. Farmers were most likely to wear protection if they had previous experienced health problems when handling a chemical compound. Respondents gave little indication of knowledge or concern regarding longer-term health effects of the various chemicals. Most of the disinfectant packages observed lacked adequate written health warnings on their labels. Workers on large-scale grow-out farms were more likely to receive training on safe chemical handling as specified in certification schemes (e.g. Global GAP), whereas this was unlikely to be on the agenda of workshops and training that small-scale farmers participated in.

There were clear differences between the farms in chemical storage provisions as large-scale farms were required to have adequate chemical storage facilities as specified in Global GAP certification standards. Most small-scale farmers simply stored chemicals in their house or in the temporary pond-side shelters constructed for workers and watchmen. Most small-scale farmers, nursery farmers and hatchery operators and all large-scale farmers said that they knew which chemicals were banned from use in aquaculture; were instructed how to handle chemicals safely; and were informed about the associated health risks when handling chemicals. However, when cross checking such information only large scale managers were able to list banned chemicals, but very few farmers were able to describe safe handling of chemical and associated health risks.

Several small-scale and some nursery farmers reported skin-lesions and itching, and less frequently coughing problems after handling chemicals. Farmers related specific health problems with the handling of specific chemicals. For example, mixing calcium hypochloride with copper sulphate could occasionally cause fire and burning of skin. Direct contact with benzalkonium chloride (BKC) and Kurz extract (Combretum dasystachyum) also caused skin problems, whilst formalin fumes caused eye irritation.

Chemicals, antimicrobials and toxins
A major source of information regarding the chemical and biological products used in Asian aquaculture, particularly among smallholder farmers, is from local retail outlets. Understanding of farmer use required triangulating farmer practice with the availability of the different products and perceptions of local vendors together with field measurements and modelled outcomes. A further SEAT study of commercially manufactured feeds in Vietnam found no evidence of any risk to human health through accumulation in pangasius flesh from over 40 screened potentially toxic elements (PTEs). However certain PTEs could have indirect impacts if pond sediments are used in associated agriculture as fertilisers. Marcussen et al (2014) in a study assessing copper in pangasius ponds where it is used frequently as a parasite treatment, found that generally PTE concentrations were low and of no risk. However, 16 and 12 of the 48 samples had Cu and Zn concentrations above the Vietnamese limit value for agricultural soils, respectively. The highest Cu and Zn concentrations were 105 and 303 mg/kg dry weight compared to the limit values of 50 and 200 mg/kg, respectively. The high Cu and Zn concentrations in sludge do not necessarily constitute a risk if the sludge is applied in agricultural soil. However, prolonged application of the sludge may increase soil Cu and Zn soil concentrations to values above the limited value. Furthermore, bioavailable Cu was low in the in the sludge and sediment and could not be detected by a biosensor. It is concluded that PTE concentrations in the sludge and sediment are generally low except for Cu and Zn. However, due to low bioavailability Cu concentrations are not likely to constitute an ecotoxicological risk or at risk of accumulating in food produce. However, prolonged use of sludge application may result in agricultural soils with Cu and Zn concentrations above the limit values for Vietnamese agricultural soils. This information has been used in further development of sludge reuse strategies in Vietnam. The implications of aquaculture on local and global environment are considered next.

Environmental impacts
The environmental impacts of internationally traded Asian aquaculture were assessed from both local and global perspectives. Local impact analysis used a combination of system dynamic (contaminants and nutrients) and spatial models.

In the recent past effluents from intensive aquaculture have been a major source of criticism and given rise to conflicts with other users. The management of individual aquaculture enterprises particularly with regard to their design, feed and water quality management is critical but the collective impacts of within landscapes, together with an understanding of other activities ‘space’ also requires a spatial understanding. Assessing enterprise level effluents compared to internationally acceptable (GAA_BAP) or industry best standards. The results show that, based on the minimum water quality criteria all farms in each country had intermediate scores (Figure 9). Based on the median values of the scores areas can be ranked from the highest to lowest as Vietnamese pangasius, Chinese tilapia, Bangladesh farms and Thai shrimp.

Figure 9: Percentage of total number of farms surveyed within each EAFI rank - (A) Chinese tilapia, n = 191; (B) Thai shrimp, n = 168; (C) Vietnamese Pangasius, n = 197; (D) Bangladesh all farms, n = 370. (score; 1 equivalent to BAP standard, 5 equivalent to exceptional water quality) score based on poorest of three environment parameters. (Telfer & Ross, 2014)

An early review of the use of chemicals and biological products in Asian aquaculture focused on 23 relevant published studies (Rico et al, 2012) that laid the framework for later detailed studies that assessed perceptions, practice and both measured and modelled impacts. The veterinary medicinal products (VMPs) used range from compounds to sanitise or disinfect water and sediment, to those aiming to fertilise water or kill pests but also include antibiotics, feed additives, hormones vaccines, anaesthetics and probiotics. The large range of products used, and significant proportion of associated production costs, is driven by a number of factors including a relatively poor knowledge base with regard to aquatic animal health, and the parallel intensification of farming and concomitant emergence and economic impact of pathogens. Prior to SEAT few studies presented estimates of dosage and frequency actually used nor assessment of impact.

Figure 10: Drug transfer and dissipation processes included in the exposure assessment; Rico et al, 2013

The development of a model (ERA-AQUA; Version 2.0) to assess the risks posed by VMPS used in pond aquaculture to the environment and human health is timely (Rico et al, 2013). Most models available had been limited to developed, temperate country scenarios with strong regulatory frameworks. Typically these were based on simple algorithms for assessment of environmental exposure concentration and are unsatisfactory for dealing with the complexity of commercial aquaculture. When applied they tend to overestimate risks partly by ignoring dissipation pathways that occur through management e.g. exchange for water and the absorption of chemicals into sediments. The pharmacokinetics and bioaccumulation of VMPS is also rarely considered. Based on a risk quotient approach whereby the exposure and effects are assessed (based on predicted exposure concentration and predicted no-effect concentration respectively), the model combines information on the pond environment and its management, farmed species and the physical chemical properties of the VMP being studied (Figure 11). The model was demonstrated using two VMPs, an antibiotic (oxytetracylcine) and disinfectant/parasiticide (Benzalkonium chloride) regularly used in the culture of pangasius on the Mekong Delta.

Figure 10: Chemical transfer and dissipation processes included in the exposure assessment performed by the ERA-AQUA model

The introduction of biosecurity measures has resulted in a decline in the use of antimicrobials in (semi-)intensive shrimp production of China, Thailand and Vietnam. Chemotherapeutants are still frequently used in Pangasius catfish farms of Vietnam and in tilapia cage-based farms of Thailand (Rico et a, 2013). On average the 25% of the chemotherapeutant mass applied to aquaculture ponds is released unchanged into the environment by effluent discharges. This percentage might be up to 90% for some compounds applied to intensive aquaculture ponds. The main factors that play a role in the environmental discharge of aquaculture chemotherapeutants are the mode of application (directly to water vs. mixed with feed), the frequency and duration of the effluent discharge events, the density of cultured species in the aquaculture pond, and the organic-matter sorption and bioaccumulation potential of the applied compound (Rico et al., 2013; Rico et al., 2014) Environmental exposure to some aquaculture chemicals might result in high risks for non-target aquatic organisms. Overall, higher ecological risks are expected for parasiticides, mainly affecting the structure of non-target invertebrate communities. Preliminary risk assessments show that the highest ecological risks are expected in areas with intensive Pangasius catfish production such as the Mekong Delta (Vietnam), followed by intensive shrimp production in the south-east of China. Monitoring studies show that aquaculture antibiotics accumulate in sediments next to fish cage farms and pond effluent discharge points. Although their toxicological effects on tropical freshwater communities seems to be mild, further research is required to assess the ecological effects of chemical mixtures and long-term effects on sediment organisms (Rico et al., 2014). Antibiotic concentrations in aquaculture ponds and environmental sediments are sufficiently high to induce the development of antibiotic resistance in environmental bacteria. Contaminants have both local and global environmental impacts and an attempt was made to inform the aquatic ecotoxity impact category used in Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods. Many currently existing LCIA methods for aquatic ecotoxicity are incomplete, that is, characterisation factors (CFs) are missing for quite a number of potentially ecotoxic chemical emissions. It was concluded that large time investments are needed to cover the full range of chemicals used in the aquaculture value chain, and even then the uncertainty remains quite large. Other remaining limitations with LCA such as modelling concentrations and detailed fate of chemicals highlighted the complementary meaning of RA to LCA, and the other way around.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
The project has been able to contribute both methodological innovations to research into global environmental impacts of food production in addition to novel farmed seafood Asia specific LCA results that potentially can reduce the global impacts of Asian aquaculture.

The status of research into environmental impacts of aquaculture using LCA is fraught with controversy; the publication of a high profile but seriously flawed study (Kaufman, 2012) linking mangrove destruction and shrimp farming highlighted the danger of scientific claims being made based on ill-defined methodologies. The contribution of SEAT highlighting the diversity and range of resource intensity of Asian farmed seafood to the broader knowledge of agriculture and food systems (Pelletier et al, 2011) has therefore been important. Identifying the similarities and differences in impacts between livestock and aquaculture is critical as no food production is impact free. Feeds are the major source of impact for both most livestock and fed aquaculture whereas the appreciable volumes (>40% by volume) and diversity of seafood (seaweeds, molluscs, fish and shellfish) farmed under extensive conditions with no given nutrients are a unique feature of aquaculture. Many of these systems act as nutrient sinks and essentially provide environmental services to local communities. Balancing land use and land use change (LULAC) with resource use is a key issue as Asian aquatic farming system tend towards intensification. Lessons learnt regarding the sustainable intensification of aquaculture identified during SEAT activities were contributed to a FAO regional forum focusing on aquaculture (Little et al, 2012). Modern commercial aquaculture systems remain relatively open to their immediate environments and, commonly being resource intensive, they are dependent on distant sources of feed and other inputs. The openness or porosity of production systems raises the possibility of impacts on local ecosystems associated with the transfer of nutrients and contaminants, exchange of pests and pathogens, genetic contamination and competition with wild species. A key issue is the level to which isolation from the ‘environment’ is possible or desirable. Strategies to manage interactions to achieve a balance between the needs of the production system, the species farmed and the integrity of the environments that support them were presented and discussed. Transcending farm boundaries and using value chain approaches to assess sustainability of farmed seafood is a clear need for standardising methodologies and allowing more comparative analyses. Henriksson et al (2012) reviewed methodologies used in Life Cycle assessments of aquaculture systems and found that there was limited coverage of production in developing countries, low intensity farming practices and non-finfish species despite the dominance and heterogeneity of aquatic farming systems in Asia. Studies also varied widely in terms of allocation factors, data sourcing and had different choices of functional unit, system, boundaries and impact assessment methods. Another review (Newton et al, 2013) highlighted the lack of appreciation of the importance of co-products from global aquaculture which vary between 40-70% of production and for which there is often underutilisation. A conclusion of the study was that in contrast to Europe where co-products are underutilized because of logistics, disconnections in the value chain and perceived and actual regulatory barriers in Asia most co-products are used. Often however their utilisation, whilst innovative falls below their economic potential and has possible human and biosecurity risks.

A need for LCA practitioners to critically appraise uncertainties associated with their datasets was identified early in the project. This led to an approach developed for horizontal averaging of unit process data including estimates for uncertainty (Henriksson et al, 2013) allows presentation of results as ranges and distributions rather than the point value results that are the norm among LCA practitioners.

Another key contribution of the SEAT project to LCA methodology is the framing of the contributions and importance of co-products to value chain and the inherent trade-offs between value addition and environmental impacts (Newton, 2014, Figure 12).

Figure 12: Alternative strategies for shrimp by-product utilisation with economic values in US$ (red) and mass of products in kg (black) in relation to one tonne of product directed to human consumption; a) mixed by-product directed to shrimp meal, b) heads directed to hydrolysate with shell by-products directed to chitosan extraction (Newton, 2014)

A unique database and LCA’s for 24 different Asian aquaculture systems have been produced as an outcome of an extensive data collection process. The functional unit, the basis for comparison between different systems fulfilling the same or a similar function, was generically defined as:

“1000 kg of frozen, edible yield of frozen species X produced on farm type Y in country Z for consumption in the EU.”

Common for most systems was a fairly large level of dispersion around results, especially for Thai tilapia which are complex systems in terms of their nutrient inputs. Another trend was a strong influence of fishmeal, driven by the large amounts of diesel used in capture fishing boats, and energy needed for fish reduction. For shrimp farming, paddlewheels were also a large drain of energy.

Figure 13: Box-and-whisker plots indicating the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of one tonne of L. vannamei shrimp tails in different systems (Henriksson et al, 2014).

Emissions were especially large in China since it mainly relies upon coal, which is a relatively dirty source for electricity generation.

Environmental performance amongst the different aquaculture production systems differed surprisingly little amongst countries and allocation methods. Allocation methods have in the past been identified as having a pivotal influence on conclusions. However, by defining a functional unit beyond the processing plant, we in the present research found few cases where the general conclusions changed with allocation method. Absolute results diverged more between the two allocation methods used here, economic and mass allocation. The absolute results, however, also indicated large dispersions with overlap amongst all the L. vannamei shrimp production systems analysed. This indicates that differences amongst farmers are probably more influential than differences amongst production systems. Moreover, it also indicates that point value LCA results should be critically evaluated and that averaged unit process data result in more homogenous results. Another major outcome of the present research is that quantitative uncertainties can be calculated and practically amended, even for complex systems (Figure 14).

Figure 14: Eco-efficiency of three aquaculture value chains. (Amount of impact per monetary value, in for $1000 US products from the VC.) (Newton, 2014)

Figure 14 indicates that for shrimp the bar is very low so there is good efficiency for both the edible portion (IQF) and the by-product chains; chitosan and hydrolysate. For pangasius, the opposite is true because the value of the product is lower and the value of the pangasius meal and oils are also low so their eco-efficiency is poorer.

Mass allocation supports the general conclusion but more impact is attributed to the by-product industries because of allocation at the processor stage, and it is the contribution from the shrimp raw material and upstream processes which have most impact.

From the environmental to economic performance of value chains
Whilst LCA allowed comparison of relative environmental performance of alternative product systems for meeting the same end use function, from a broad, societal perspective, applying a lifecycle approach to economics (Life Cycle Costing, LCC) supported determination of cost effectiveness of alternative investments and business decisions, from the perspective of an economic decision maker, such as a manufacturing firm or a consumer.

Life Cycle Costing (LCC)

Integration of LCA and LCC data collection and modelling allowed a more comprehensive understanding of the overall systems and insights into where reductions in environmental impacts might also lead to economic gains and cases where these two effects may trade off. This could potentially provide an economic incentive to lessen environmental burdens posed by the product life cycle or offer guidance for areas where further technical research would be required to address negative environmental impacts against lower additional costs. Outcomes of an analysis of pangasius in Vietnam allowed insights into the impacts of farm-scale on economic performance through the value chains.

Figure 14: Flow diagram of LCC boundary of pangasius farming in Vietnam, Quasim et al, 2014)

LCC identified differences in relative costs and prices for small, medium and large scale farms. For example, small-scale pangasius farmers in Vietnam operate at lower efficiency and spend relatively more on feed than medium and large scale farms (Figure on left).

Past work on LCC has modelled this separately and through a different methodological framework than what has been used for LCA. Several challenges for bringing together LCA and LCC were encountered during the synthesis of this report. Amongst these, future research should focus on how to include labour and capital costs in the models.

Understanding the implications of the production and trade of farmed seafood on people and communities required assessment at variable levels and with different disciplinary tools. Global Value Chain Analysis and livelihoods assessment were used to assess impact through.

Global value chains and implications for livelihoods of aquaculture communities
Across the four countries and eight value chains analysed, common features that emerged included:

1. The importance of the domestic institutional framework in determining the export competitiveness of the four countries’ aquaculture products. Through sufficient domestic regulations, the reputation of the exporting country is raised in international trade of aquaculture products.
2. All four countries have at one time or another suffered from a weak domestic institutional and regulatory framework, coupled with poor enforcement that led to regulatory failures and increased sector scrutiny. However, the four countries have extended and strengthened these frameworks in order to meet European other importing country requirements.
3. NGO and media campaigns in the EU (and US), and their impact of negative publicity in all four countries has impacted on the governance features of these value chains. This has led to increased use of third-party certification and public and private standards.
4. Stricter import-level regulation and more stringent public and private standards in the EU acting as non-tariff barriers have led to the emergence of new market destinations for all chains, in particular, other Asian countries, Russia and the Middle East.

Assessing dynamic opportunities and threats, Kruijssen et al (Deliverable 5.5) found that although the outlook for trade in farmed seafood between the four countries and the EU was positive, growth appeared to be slowing. Macroeconomic factors such as exchange rates and custom tariffs between countries can have especially significant implications for the competitiveness of a countries’ industry, and their use in Thailand may help explain the rapid development of their aquaculture sector. However, several trends may be threatening production, including the increased occurrence of disease outbreaks, and in the longer term the impacts of climate change. Stability of availability and prices of production factors are also key issues for sustained aquaculture production. In terms of efficiency of feed use, the target species compete well with other species, especially other animal proteins such as pork. Further reductions of fishmeal inclusion in for example shrimp feed also seem to be possible. Although Asia still has a comparative advantage in terms of labour costs, this comparative advantage is therefore diminishing, especially for Thailand and China.

Demand for seafood is highly dynamic (Figure 16). Globally it is on the rise, under the influence of rising disposable incomes, but it is also highly variable across geographical regions and seasons. In addition, sustainability issues have become more important and apparent to consumers with widespread availability of information and opinions. At the same time, quality, taste and price are continuing to be important factors for consumers. The rise of seafood demand in China will be an important trend to follow as this will continue to put pressure on seafood supplies, both from China itself as well as from the rest of the world.

An important conclusion is that in this highly complex sector, more reliable, detailed and timely market information, as well as more attention for the value chain beyond production, is critical for the competitiveness of the sector and the continued trust of consumers in its products. A key issue in understanding value chains has been assessing the role of governance or the “inter-firm relationships and institutional mechanisms trough which non-market, or ‘explicit’, coordination of activities in the chain is achieved” (Humphrey & Schmitz, 2004). The two main approaches to understanding governance i.e. governance as driving; and governance as coordination were both used in the analysis (Jesperson et al, under review and Ponte et al, under review).

Governance and changing institutional frameworks related to value chains
The importance of institutional frameworks and the governance of aquaculture value chains were assessed and lessons learnt from the trade in four farmed seafood commodities between four Asian countries and EU (Jespersen et al, under review). Using an integrated approach to examine a) the institutional framework within which value chains operate; b) coordination mechanisms at key value chain nodes and related contractual forms; c) internal governance in the chain, or the driving mechanisms that lead firms apply to other actors in the value chain and how these mechanisms shape the functional division of labour along the chain; and d) overall governance which highlights the different roles and weight of internal and external sources of governance. Internal and external drivers of value chain governance were contrasted at different levels, including the global, regional and local dynamics by covering the specificities of governance in Asia, Europe and globally. Multiple coordination mechanisms were identified at work in one value chain node at the same time.

Internal governance dynamics in the different value chains were found to be rather diverse ranging from low to high levels of driving and in some countries several forms of driving co-exist (see figure 17 for tilapia in China). A gradual shift from public to private (market-based) or hybrid forms of governance was found to be taking place, with policy makers increasingly relying on private governance mechanisms to serve public interest. These private forms of governance also tended to set requirements that go beyond what is set by regulation, which implies that value chains affected by voluntary standards and certification should in theory be driven to exceed statutory standards. While governments in producing countries have extended and tightened regulation in order to address the concerns of importing countries and strengthen the viability and the sustainability of industries, implementation and enforcement of new regulations still remains a challenge. These challenges, combined with changing demands in export markets, have led governments in exporting countries to also resort to private forms of governance, including voluntary standards and certification schemes, to regulate aquaculture. The research illustrates the importance of the particular institutional framework in shaping overall value chain governance. The four Asian countries demonstrate different levels of strengths of their institutional framework, resulting in diverse domestic regulatory frameworks and levels of internal governance by chain actors. Strong institutional frameworks play an important role in driving improved value chain performance by supporting coordinated sectorial adjustments to the rising demands of the export market.

The progress of producer countries seeking to ‘upgrade’ their aquaculture value chains was also assessed in relation to the three factors of value chain governance: coordination mechanisms, types of drivers and domestic regulation (Ponte et al, under review). Although evidence for improvements in products and processes and coordination of the value chain were found instances of ‘moving up’ the value chain were rare. The types of value chain driver were critical in the examples of upgrading that were found, as were the quality of domestic regulation. Thus, whereas pressures from importer country lead firms, especially supermarkets, and well developed regulation in Thailand has led to appreciable upgrading of the shrimp sector, in Bangladesh lack of either explains the lack of progress.

The development and role of emerging aquaculture standards was assessed as one component of the projects work on governance. As assessment of opportunities for stakeholder participation in governance was reviewed through the lens of an ethical framework, the degree to which it gives effect to ethical principles, and the costs and benefits for stakeholders acting within this framework.
One finding is the neglect for, or limited coverage of, some core ethical principles and interest areas. Another finding is that the needs for dialogue between stakeholders, and the balancing of their interests, are scarcely addressed (Haugen et al, 2013 ). Further it was found that the great variety and number of certification schemes and standards, combined with quite substantial fees, exclude many small players from being certified. On the other hand, actions to include small players by introducing flexibility on certification content, procedures and controls, raise questions as to the actual quality of the products. Overall, the deliverable emphasises the need for a bottom-up approach to constructing certification schemes (Haugen et al, 2013).

Although aquaculture standards can be meaningfully conceptualised as governance mechanisms, they are not inclusive in their construction or implementation. A ‘holistic top-down’ development process for capacity building is proposed. This means a top-down approach to create capacity at the local level for the purpose of creating strong bottom-up processes. Further that aquaculture governance would be better served, less by criticism, and more by a positive ‘critique’ (Haugen et al, 2013). The mapping of ethical landscapes was important: (a) to recognise diversity and contingency in deliberation on what constitutes sustainable and ethical aquaculture; (b) to highlight barriers to the sustainability and ethicalness of aquaculture, recognising contingency does not amount to relativism; and (c) to promote further research on ethical landscapes (Bremer et al, 2013)

The key gaps in the development of current certification programmes, related to the challenge of integrating real bottom-up approaches and broadening their focus way from single or narrow views of sustainability has driven the development of the Ethical Aquaculture Food Index (EAFI). As the research outcomes of the project have gradually delivered specific knowledge to inform our insights into sustainability of farmed seafood value chains, the EAFI has developed in parallel. Its evolution particularly in the last 18 months of the project has been iterative as we have worked with the targeted end users (seafood buyers and standards owners and developers) to ensure that the content and presentation were most likely to meet their needs. The EAFI as a tiered iterative hierarchical framework is the outcome. Further development of the EAFI tool is proposed for which active negotiations with third parties are currently underway.

Figure 18: View of the value chain tier 0 narratives a precursor step to using the EAFI. At the moment the EAFI is two-dimensional but with time will be hosted on a web based platform.

The integration of the data from each EAFI level can ultimately be achieved through a web based platform that along with the consideration of scale within the framework is pivotal to its future success – the EAFI cannot be a country comparator but a small, medium or large comparator of aquaculture production across regions. The integration of varied data from social, environmental and economic sources into functional platforms is complex and the data platform that ultimately integrates such mixed and varied data sources into a functioning web based platform is the final hurdle. Weeks et al. (2014 a, b) have developed the concept and the framework that uses a tiered iterative approach for the assessment of ethical and sustainable aquaculture production in four countries for four products. This platform uses an evaluation process that makes use of a series of tiered questions/indicators within a structured framework; the results of which forms an assessment of food produced during aquaculture activities that signify a level of sustainability or ethical production for that particular food entity. It assesses the entire food production chain and is focused on the scale of the farms, the region and country specific information for each product. It is similar to, but is differentiated from food certification schemes that use a branded mark to signify a particular level of “environmental/ quality” attainment.

The tiers are based around a broad contextual understanding of the value chain landscape for each product (see below), country and size (scale) of enterprise. This forms the baseline or ‘tier 0’ of the framework. Subsequent tiers ask questions of this landscape in order to derive the index score. Tier 1 and 2 (and ultimately 3) ask increasingly more quantitative questions. The ability to answer the questions dictates the exit point for the framework. Each level of which is subsequently more involved than the previous layer of questioning. By using a tiered decision tool the user need only advance beyond the base level if uncertainty in the data exists or there is an overall lack of confidence. It is anticipated that most users of the tool will exit early from the framework with sufficient confidence in the outcome of the index value. When an EAFI is not reached there is a clear understanding as to why and the necessary remedial actions necessary in order to achieve a higher score in future iterations.

The development of the EAFI mirrored a project-wide approach to building on our understanding of Asian farmed seafood value chains through action research with stakeholders. Research issues were identified as our understanding of real constraints and opportunities emerged in dialogue with stakeholders along the value chain as the SEAT project progressed. The major themes of research undertaken were (a) mitigating environmental impacts through value added re-use of sediments, (b) improved feed management, (c) quality assurance, (d) value addition to processing by-product, (e)supply chain coordination and traceability improvement, (f ) enhanced communications regarding socioeconomic impacts of shrimp farming, (g) animal welfare, and (h) knowledge exchange and research validation.

Highlights of action research
The most important criteria of success for action research is either a behavioural or management change following the initial research activity and/or the continued interest of the participating stakeholders towards further resolution of the issue.

Note to view this matrix below properly please see attached Science and Technology pdf

Action research theme Rationale Tangible results within SEAT project period Indications of further research/activity Partners /Stakeholders involved
(a) Mitigating environmental impact through value added reuse of pond sediments Reduction and reuse of aquaculture production wastes is a key principle of improving sustainability, integral to all major certification schemes. Moreover while reuse protects common water resources from pollution it also reduces environmental impacts of complementary crop production through reducing requirements for resource intensive inorganic fertilisation Activities in three countries spanning shrimp and pangasius engagement with manufacturers of dredging and de-watering equipment regarding technology demands and opportunities in the pangasius sector

Confirmation that reuse would need to be local to pangasius sector in Vietnam but value added opportunities identified in Bangladesh through development of poor stakeholder value chains and use in urban horticulture

Fertiliser value to key crops identified and low public health risk of use confirmed through analysis of contaminants

Efficacy of existing palm oil irrigation systems in de-salinating sediments used as fertiliser confirmed.

Opportunities and knowledge gaps for producing marine worms identified Continued investment in development in Bangladesh?

Continued engagement with partners interested in developing marine worm opportunities.

Practical Action, Bangladesh
numerous poor actors in value chains

Suratthani Shrimp Farmers Club, numerous shrimp and oil palm farmers, Surat Oil Palm Research Centre, Mahidol University

Pangasius and vegetable farmers,
waste re-use company, European dredge manufacturers.

SEAT consortium members SCM 1,3,8,9,10

(b) Improved feed management The major global environmental impacts associated with aquaculture are related to feed use, ingredients and efficiencies Salmon by-products used in feeding trial, data contributing to formulation of new diets.

Improved feed utilisation through aeration of pangasius ponds, with reduced chemical use and possible feed efficiencies.
Fishmeal inclusion in shrimp and tilapia diets (Thailand), with CP announcing removal of fishmeal from shrimp diets.

Enzyme treatment of tilapia feeds shows promise.

Marine worms as feeds. Pangasius aeration system re-installed in new pond and further farmer instigated trials continuing.

Doctoral work on-going on enzyme treatment of tilapia feeds.

Continued engagement with partners interested in developing marine worm opportunities.
Pangasius work involved the private sector including Rossyew in Scotland, Daika in Thailand, with Viet Long Than Khoi in Vietnam.

Thailand Nam Sai, Grobest-others involved

SCM I, 5, 8, 9 Project partners involved
(c) Quality assurance Off-flavour or taint is a major constraint to the further expansion of tilapia production internationally, and to the price in some markets today. Promising results from initial trials Nam Sai continues to test system

Tongwei meeting ApriL 2014 Thailand: Nam Sai and 4 tilapia processors including Grobest.

China: Several processors (again including Grobest)

SCM 1,7, 9 Project partners involved
(d) Value addition to processing by-product Improved processing to increase the yield from each fish would be an important efficiency gain for the sector Meetings with key pangasius processors, development of economic model

Doctoral work on-going adding economic analysis to the yield and perceptions data generated. Baader, Germany and CP, Vietnam

1,8.9 Project partners involved
(e) Supply chain coordination and traceability improvement The lack of traceability and supply chain consistency in Bangladeshi shrimp devalues what should be a premium, free range product, trapping it in a low value niche within international markets. And undermining the poor smallholders that produce it.

More broadly, and throughout the region, smallholder farmers are constrained by lack of production-level record keeping
Producer clubs are thought to encourage innovation and improved productivity but their performance and sustain ability is inconsistent-what can be learnt from the most effective organisations? Analysis of situation presented to policy makers and published.

Uptake by other r&d projects and the FAO

SFP basing AIPs with surat shrimp club WAB Trading & Naturland, Germay

1,7, 9.10 12 Project partners involved
(f) Enhanced communications regarding socioeconomic impacts of shrimp farming Media reporting of Asian aquaculture is almost wholly negative what can be learnt and communicated that gives a more balanced view and based on evidence from local stakeholders themselves? High profiles for Lonie’s blog
etc WAB Trading & Naturland, Germany
1,3,9,10,12,14 Project partners involved
(g) Animal welfare Animal welfare has advanced up the priorities of EU stakeholders in terms of its importance but analysis indicated its low priority among many Asian stakeholders. In anticipation of animal welfare possibly becoming a potential barrier to trade how can producer countries build capacity to develop their own higher welfare systems?
High awareness among Asian stakeholders of animal welfare and its important. Differences between understandings of what factors of welfare are important in Asia and Europe identified.

Follow on work funded by Lyons-Seajoy on eye stalk ablation RSPCA, Freedom Food, Marine Harvest, Sainsbury’s
1,7,8,9,10 Project partners involved
(h) Knowledge exchange and research validation Asynchronous access to information was identified as a major issue for less well connected stakeholders in farmed seafood value chains and choice editors alike…piloting different approaches to communications was therefore identified as a priority issue.

Potential Impact:
Potential Impacts and Main Dissemination Activities and Exploitation of Results
Note to see all the Figures, Boxes, and Tables in the proper formats in the context they were included in the text etc please view the attached pdf Potential impacts
The key research outcomes of the Sustaining Ethical Aquaculture Trade project have already had social and economic impacts in both Europe and Asia and have laid the foundations for longer term mutual benefit. The timing of the project became aligned with a major economic recession and renewed concern about global food security following food price hikes and associated civil unrest in poorer, food insecure countries. This focused the project consortium on the major issue-the aquatic food security of Europe and its increased dependence on Asian aquaculture. Our efforts towards ensuing impacts and effective dissemination of project outcomes were laid out in our initial external communication strategy (D12.0) which was subsequently reviewed and updated in line with early scoping activities that identified the dynamic knowledge needs of stakeholders and opportunities for targeted exploitation of results. The identified key target audiences were choice editors in EU; policy makers and regulators, academic and researchers, production stakeholders, and MSMEs.

Further details of all impacts and dissemination are contained in the Annex 3 s of RP2 and RP3 .

Audience Description/examples of audience members Channels and tools
Choice editors, market
Influencers and actors Importers, buyers and retail groups, standards setters, certifiers and NGOs Meetings, on-going dialogues, committee participation publications, EAFI tool, international website and social media
Policy makers & regulators Policy makers and regulators.

Meetings, publications, rapid assessment toolbox (RATB), EAFI, international and local language website and social media, specific policy briefs.
Academics & researchers Researchers and academics working on aquaculture and related issues. Publications, Meetings, Associations,
Asian value chain stakeholders Producers, processors and farmers clubs etc. Meetings and workshops, posters, videos,
Asian partners website, Calendars
European SMES Consultants, micro, small and medium enterprises, social and not-for-profit organizations Database, trade meetings, international website, e-bulletins
Table 1: Key audiences Note this table can be viewed in its proper format in the attached Potential Impacts pdf

Societal implications and socioeconomic impacts
The complexity of global value chains and the inherent dynamic therein makes any single, specific piece of new knowledge unlikely to have major impacts on its own. The factors affecting the sustained market for Asian farmed seafood in Europe are many and the project has focused on disseminating knowledge among choice editors on any and every platform. A realisation that scientific evidence is only a minor part of opinion-forming and agenda influencing; and that vested interests and fashion count for more was an outcome of this process. The rise of a ‘local’ food agenda in Europe in recent years, partly in response to continuing food scandals associated with the poor governance of global value chains, has given form to anti-trade sentiment that has trickled down to media and politicians alike. This has influenced supermarket policies and popular debate, even as the reliance on imported food and feed ingredients continues to grow. Clarifying misunderstandings and challenging mistruths with evidence has been a core activity of the SEAT team working at many levels over the entire research period and the tools and frameworks developed for improving sustainability assessments will support high quality research, development and decision-making into the future. A key issue has been assessing the status of, and opportunities for, strengthening the position of poor stakeholders in farmed seafood value chains. The shift away from a wholly production focus to the whole value chain approach has proved instructive. The framing of the issue has supported the project orientate policy makers and other stakeholders to a broader view of the mechanisms through which aquaculture can enhance livelihoods. Ensuring that the views and perceptions of value chain stakeholders have been given a voice through structured data collection and recorded testimony also brings balance to the debate around farmed seafood. Use of Life Cycle Analysis based on information collected from the field brings credible new perspectives to sustainability analysis. Such analyses, together with the other sustainability perspectives, can improve understanding of the trade-offs inherent in change and inform policy for aquaculture development that ensure protection of the social outcomes.

The main dissemination activities and exploitation of results will now be considered by major target audiences.
1. Choice editors
The relatively small number, and high influence, of seafood buyers (both retailers and food service), sustainability officers and organisations developing and managing standards were identified as the critical audience to which SEAT should prioritise communications.

Plate 1: RSPCA in SEAT video Figure 1: Seafood choice editors, Little 2013

The project identified the need to target choice editors are the key gatekeepers for farmed seafood entering Europe are buyers from specialist wholesalers, supermarket chains and food service organisations. Such people are critical in terms of being so-called choice editors as they decide what products are available on shop shelves and menus in restaurants. Increasingly, another class of choice editors are affecting the penetration of seafood products to EU markets-these are individuals working for certification organisations and standards setters.
This audience was assessed as being relatively easy to contact, heavily influenced by media and consumer attitudes and therefore as having a key vested interest in the SEAT knowledge .The scoping analysis revealed that many had a superficial or biased understanding of farmed seafood value chains (FSVC), based on quick visits and often with little appreciation of local complexity or the biological, physical and human systems on which they are based. SEAT staff took every opportunity over the course of the project to interact personally and participate in appropriate fora (see RP reports Annex 2). Including in this were standards development dialogues, specialist meetings organised by industry (e.g. BRC, ACIG, European Seafood Exposition). This interaction also allowed SEAT researchers to involve such individuals into various types of action research (see Box, Freedom Food) ranging from representatives of international NGOs to influencing sourcing strategies. Through participation in high level meetings, engaging in standing committees (e.g. Standing Oversight Committee of the Global Aquaculture Alliance) and publication in academic journals we have gained profile and influenced strategic direction such as the recent strategy change of GAA-BAP to develop a zonal approach to aquaculture.

2. Policymakers and regulators
The SEAT project engaged with policymakers in both Europe and Asia from the project inception and had particular success in challenging the views of imported farmed seafood regularly voiced by Struan Stevenson, MEP and Senior Vice President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee This led to a positive engagement including the MEP retrenching his view and offering the ‘Struan Stevenson Internships for improved understanding of farmed seafood trade between Asia and Europe’ to qualified interns from Asia and Europe.
Meetings with policy makers in both the EU and Asia were held to inform both sides of project aims and then at the end of the project, outcomes, and prevailing realities in terms of market sentiment and industry profile and impacts respectively. Specific guidance on the new EU ‘hygiene package’ of regulations was delivered through face-to-face meetings with the regulatory agencies and exporters in the participating Asian countries in the first 6 months of the project which also helped in establishing relationships and building goodwill and understanding. Meetings with regulators local to the production and processing hubs tended to be held with members of the value chains, i.e. farmers, suppliers, processors (see next section).
Tool kits were developed, principally for use both groups (1) and (2). The Rapid Assessment Tool Box (RATB) was developed to support the development, implementation and evaluation of the EAFI and was used as a catalogue of the technical tools used by the different WPs to underpin most of the EAFI scores related to environmental and human health impacts (D7.3). The RATB is delivered as a concise report that describes each of the modelling tools that compose the RATB, together with case-studies that help to interpret the output of these tools and to understand their potential applications for aquaculture sustainability assessment and management. The report will allow end-users to quickly distinguish the various risk assessment tools developed within the SEAT project, find those relevant to their needs, and then ideally access a more detailed 'user manual' or ‘model description’ for the tools they find interesting.

The ERA-AQUA DSS was used as the basis for the contribution of WP7 to the RATB, because it is a simple tool that can be used by all stakeholders, i.e. Asian governments, academia, pressure groups and aquaculture industries. This is to facilitate the integration of science-based Environmental Risk Assessment studies in the market registration of aquaculture chemicals, to ensure the environmental sustainability and, herewith, the societal acceptability of the sector. The description of the scientific equations included in the ERA-AQUA DSS together with a practical user’s manual is provided in D7.5. The ERA-AQUA DSS is incorporated in an easy-to-use graphical user interface (Fig. 2), can be freely downloaded from

The Ethical Aquaculture Food Index (EAFI) is a derived index that has been weighted based on the consideration of ethical (for example the use of child labour, the adoption of labour laws etc.) and sustainable (impact of farming on local and wider environment) issues. The EAFI uses a simple hierarchical tiered assessment framework as a process to aid decision making and ultimately derive an index value – the output is a visualisation of scale rather than a simple numerical outcome. The EAFI decision tool adopts a series of linked tiers; each tier containing a set of questions (See S&T section)

The EAFI is in the final stages of development but is a useable and verifiable tool that will continue to be developed over coming months. There are many interested stakeholders and a strong future for the EAFI exists; dialogue with potential end users and other stakeholders has been very positive.

Policy Briefs
A series of ten policy briefs documenting the policy recommendations based on the project research were produced for an international audience. These are available for downloading from the SEAT website.

3. Asian value chain stakeholders
Meetings with Asian value chain stakeholder typically included local regulators, administrators and policy makers. State of the System workshops held after the scoping of research contexts in each research area gave opportunities for early feedback and dissemination to local stakeholders and for cross checking the facts. Local and English language posters were outcomes of the meetings and used to disseminate the key messages more widely and to a broader range of local and International stakeholders. Local journalists present at the meetings further published the key outcomes through a variety of media and formats.
Plate 3: SoS workshop in Thailand Plate 4: SoS workshop in Vietnam

Ethical tool workshops were an innovative approach to engaging this group of stakeholders using a short film, value-ranking exercises, scenario exercises, and the use of ‘giant post-card’ to European consumers. It was determined successful in: (a) initiating communication between different concepts of sustainable and ethical aquaculture in Europe and Asia; (b) mapping and validating the ‘ethical landscapes’ relative to each value-chain, to create a framework of values for underpinning and weighting an EAFI; and (c) having groups of stakeholders formulate their own lists of indicators and criteria as a bottom-up input to an EAFI. The workshops culminated in the D8.11 report, including three lists of indicators constructed by stakeholders specific to the value-chains of Bangladeshi shrimp, Thai shrimp and Vietnamese pangasius, as the bottom-up construction of an EAFI. The workshops also generated a short film on Bangladeshi producer realities, and a conference paper ‘Whose sustainability counts?’.

Capacity building workshops for improved ICT/ MIS utilisation by local value chain stakeholders in Asia were held in Khulna, (Bangladesh), Can Tho (Vietnam), Maoming (China) and Prachuap Khirihan (Thailand). Aspects covered included the causes of rejections/import refusals in Japanese, US (for tilapia, US is a major market) markets and causes of alerts in the EU Rapid Alert System for Foods and Feeds (RASFF) for the four participating Asian countries provided indicators of market access problems. Also covered were(a) regulatory and non-regulatory requirements for international fish trade (b) lessons from trade standard compliance failures (c) case studies from application of Good Aquaculture Practices in minimizing use of chemicals and veterinary drugs in aquaculture (d) lessons from other aquaculture sectors for management of ethoxyquin residues (e) information resources for aquaculture producers. The topics covered for processors and fish inspection and certification services included the above topics and in addition, covered value added products of aquaculture in international markets.

Local language websites have been vital to inform a range of local understanding of SEAT research outcomes and to cross fertilise information exchange with other SEAT countries

Posters /Calendars
A consortium-wide assessment was made of cost effective strategies for informing local value chain stakeholders of project outcomes. Conventional meetings and workshops were discounted on the grounds of cost and overburdening farmers and preference for conventional posters, calendars, leaflets raised as alternatives.

In addition there was a sense that a more integrated dissemination of more than one WP was desirable, rather than a focus on WP5 only. It was therefore decided to analyse the needs for dissemination in each country. In a PSG meeting in May 2013 smaller working groups developed messages from each workpackage, some general, some specific for one or two countries. Different forms of dissemination were evaluated through interviews with experts external to the project as well as through discussion with partners. Finally it was decided to develop calendars that could provide the information to be disseminated by the project in a useful and lasting way. This choice was later confirmed in a pre-test with focus groups of farmers in Bangladesh. An intern assisted in the process of development of the dissemination materials. Cartoonists were hired in each country to develop clear and attractive drawings that could depict the information in a culturally appropriate way. After discussion it was decided to drop the calendar in Thailand as it was felt that the information provided was not useful to Thai farmers. A pre-test of the drawings and messages was conducted in Bangladesh to assess the understanding of the messages and their usefulness, as well as the attractiveness of the drawings through 6 focus groups in three zones in Bangladesh (50% male, 50% female). The materials were presented in three forms: a brochure, a poster and a calendar. Focus group participants were asked to vote for a specific form of the materials. An overwhelming majority preferred the calendars. Calendars were developed for each country specifically (see two examples in the Plate 6) and disseminated to farmers either through face-to-face dissemination or by regular post in case this was not possible.

A large amount of information exchange has occurred with MSMEs through our website platform complemented through face-to-face meeting at conferences and meetings. Key relationships with MSMES and larger enterprises were brokered towards their participation in action research through the value chain. Identification of MSMEs in Asia that were demonstrating innovation and providing a platform for them was a key dissemination activity. The SEAT project supported a panel of four private sector innovators at the Hong Kong Seafood Summit (Annex 3) where their approaches to sustainability were discussed and attracted considerable attention.

Over the period of the project we developed strong links with 14 MSMEs, 50 % in the EU and 50% in Asia who participated in action research (see Annex 3 for further details).We also worked with a wide range of large commercial entities, international not-for-profit organisations.

A visual database on value added products in the EU market was prepared to inform communication flow. For this some countries in EU with high consumption of warm water aquaculture products were selected. For shrimp, information was collected from France, UK, Spain, Italy, Poland and Denmark. For pangasius, the data was from Denmark, Poland, Germany and Spain. The visual database had a picture of the product and the information on the label including any certifications on the product (eg sustainability related certifications). Task 10.4 and links provided in FAO Globefish website (

International audiences
In partnership with our sub-contractor Seaweb, our main project website was maintained and upgraded throughout the project and still attracts regular hits

Plate 7: SEAT website home page
These sections (and subsections) were:
o Home – background, objectives, work package descriptions and contacts
o Updates – project news, research outputs, media coverage, highlighted articles and newsletter archives
o Videos – films explaining project and relevant issues
o Library – Image gallery, journal publications from the project’s research, academic posters and presentations
o Partners – providing background information on the institutions and researchers within the consortium
o MSMEs – Information on SEAT’s work with micro, small and medium enterprises within the focus countries and Europe
o The EAFI

SEAT connected with Social media platforms, Facebook ( ) attracting over 200 persons “Following”. Our Twitter page established in November 2012 is followed by 131 accounts, followers including journalists, restaurants, researchers, sustainability campaigners. A key success of the Twitter platform was that it gave the opportunity to connect researchers with their target audience. On numerous occasions followers contacted the project with questions through this platform. Our SME Bulletins, E-newsletters and more latterly a series of electronic bulletins have been well-received and connected a wide range of stakeholders to our website and the embedded videos located there.

List of Websites:
Main contact: Professor David Little, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA, United Kingdom.
Tel 00 44 (0) 1786 467923