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GAA, Conservation NGOs Making Waves in California

GAA has for many years been an advocate of conservation and reducing environmental impact in aquaculture. Our work has involved partnering with environmental groups – some of whom sit on our governance committees for the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program – and these relationships are incredibly valuable to our vision as an organization. The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions (CASS) was formed more than 10 years ago to give a platform for debate on both wild and farmed fish and GAA participates in the annual meetings to learn, share our perspective and help form policy for the future.

This year’s meeting was held in Del Mar, Calif., and attended by GAA Executive Director Andrew Mallison and GAA Membership Manager Becky Holt. CASS is undergoing a review of their Theory of Change and much of the meeting was to discuss the organization’s strategy for the future. Presentations from grant making funds (David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation) set clear expectations for the conservation community to work together, avoid duplication of effort and unintended consequences, e.g. increasing costs of production that may result in reduced wages to fish workers.

Andrew Mallison presented an update on the Global Seafood Assurances (GSA) project, still in development but attracting great interest, particularly on standards for labor on board fishing vessels. The sustainability debate, as well as it’s definition, has very much moved to include protecting social standards as well as reducing environmental impacts and the GSA project was widely welcomed.

Some key strengths of our advocacy and membership programming are our documentary short films and our Strategic Partner members. The CASS audience has shown great interest in sharing our film media with their constituents and developing MOU’s in order to expand our collective reach.

GAA also took the opportunity to hold side meetings to discuss development of guidelines on aquaculture improvement projects and learn others’ experience of monitoring and evaluation systems and reporting impacts of certification, key areas for the BAP program.