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GAA Provides Update on Animal Welfare Project

Nine months after receiving a two-year, $435,000 grant from the Open Philanthropy Project, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is one step closer to identifying and strengthening best practices for animal welfare in aquaculture.

GAA has successfully completed its evaluation of existing best practices for tilapia and for catfish and is nearly finished with its evaluation of existing best practices for salmonids, the first phase of a five-phase project. Once all three evaluations are completed, the organization will work with a 12-person advisory committee to identify areas for additional research, which is the second phase. That research, consisting of field trials, is expected to lead to a strengthening of best practices for animal welfare.

The third phase of the five-phase project is to develop online educational content to provide best practices training to aquaculture and seafood professionals, and the fourth phase is to communicate project results through a variety of channels. The fifth and final phase is to incorporate elements of the project into the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) standards.

“We remain committed to being open and transparent throughout this entire process and will continue to post regular status updates,” said GAA VP Steve Hart, who is leading the project. “The project is coming along well, and we expect to begin evaluating potential field trials in early 2019. We appreciate the industry’s cooperation as well as the work of our voluntary advisory committee of fish veterinarians, academics, NGOs and industry professionals.”

In addition to Hart, long-time industry veteran John Forster is coordinating the project.

Animal welfare is already one of the five pillars of the industry-leading BAP third-party certification program, along with environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety and traceability. As part of the BAP standards, producers must demonstrate that all operations on farms are designed and operated with animal welfare in mind, and maximum survival must be sought. Also, employees must be trained to provide appropriate levels of animal husbandry. There are six sets of BAP standards — for finfish and crustacean farms, salmon farms, mussel farms, hatcheries and nurseries, feed mills, and seafood processing plants.

GAA received the grant from Open Philanthropy in December 2017. Based in San Francisco, Open Philanthropy identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results and publishes its findings.

The preliminary results of another Open Philanthropy-funded project were recently unveiled in the Global Aquaculture Advocate as well as at GAA’s GOAL 2018 conference in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The study’s authors, Changing Tastes and Datassential, found that there’s an opportunity to expand the U.S. market for farmed seafood if the industry were to more widely adopt humane production practices.

About GAA

The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. Through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards, GAA has become the leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood.