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GOAL 2017: Recap on all the news from the event

The Global Aquaculture Alliance was hosting this year's GOAL in Dublin, Ireland. IntraFish was on the ground.

October 6, 1:57 p.m. GMT

New US regs on panga 'a mess'

New rules around the US catfish inspection program, are simply "a mess" according to Derrick Guss from Disney.

Although he thinks the government is trying to do the right thing, "this is going to cause hardship for the industry." Prices will ultimately go up, and these will have to be passed on to consumers, he said."When we are trying to build the seafood market and get people to eat more seafood, this kind of nonsense makes it worse."

Bob Yudovin from Harvest Meat Co, said there was already "an immediate slow down" in the market as a result of the rules, and raised a concern of which species could be next to fall foul of the USDA inspection.

Nevertheless, the product will always find market -- in this case probably China.

Eric Buckner from Sysco Corp, said the rules "absolutely has an impact", but said the pangasius will find other markets if needs be. "I think the markets drive that, where they find the greatest value for their goods, that's where it will go."

-- Dominic Welling

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October 6, 12:43 p.m. GMT

GOAL 2018... TBC

Despite the buzz around GOAL 2018 taking place in Guayaquil, Ecuador, this is still to be decided, GAA announced at the end of this year's conference. Suggestions welcome, Travis Larkin said as he rounded off the event... watch this space.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 6, 12:35 p.m. GMT

EU ban on Indian shrimp could cause 'serious problems' for US

If the EU decides to ban imports of Indian shrimp, this will "raise a few flags in the US too".

Panelists on a marketplace panel, including foodservice giants Sysco, Disney, Schnucks, and Harvest Meat Co had mixed predictions of what the ban would mean for the US market, but the general consensus was not good.

While Eric Buckner, senior director of seafood for Sysco, does not believe whatever happens in the EU "will directly affect us", taking into account what Indian means to the US in terms of shrimp imports -- nearly 50 percent come from India -- it should at least result in "more of an engagement to make improvements".

"But any type of refusals should bring caution," he said.

Nevertheless if the FDA aligns itself with EU -- which it is threatening to do -- "this would be a serious problem for the US," said Bob Yudovin from Harvest Meat Co.

Steve Disko from Schnucks added the EU ban would at least raise a few flags as the FDA has faith in EU system.

Disney's Derrick Guss though questioned whether the decsion was just about antibiotics "or something else going on, something more political".

"So I question are we doing the right thing, are the right decisions being made?"

-- Dominic Welling

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October 6, 11:00 a.m. GMT

Sustainability? Who cares

Charlie Lousignont of Brinker International, which serves some 1 million diners daily across the world through restaurant chains such as Chili's, said taste, nutrition and value are the main things his group needs to deliver.

"Somewhere down that list will come the question of sustainability," Lousignont said.

Still, things are changing.

"We're seeing a trend toward more and more people caring about that," he said. "Even though it's not in the top three boxes of what our guest is looking for...we want to be leading edge and anticipate where those guests' needs are."

--Drew Cherry

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October 6, 10:50 a.m. GMT

Eco-label? No idea what it means

Chefs care very deeply about sustainability and food integrity these days, but their understanding of eco-labels remains very mixed.

Jim Griffin, Johnson & Wales University, conducted a survey among a selection of chefs in the UK which discovered a gap in communication between eco-labels and their target audience.

About 50 percent of surveyed chefs said they were aware of the BAP eco-label for example, and they said it influenced purchasing decisions, but had no idea it was aligned with farmed seafood.

Perhaps unsurprisingly more chefs were aware of the MSC logo, but again, most were unaware it was specific to wild seafood.

“All they know is it suggests the product is sustainable. Maybe the gap is in training and communication and explaining what we’re trying to do,” said Griffin.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 6, 10:49 a.m. GMT

Chefs' growing embrace of farmed fish

Laky Zervudachi, director of sustainability at Direct Seafood, the largest buyer of fresh fish for the UK restaurant sector, said his group's chef clients are beginning to become aware of the importance of using farmed fish, which is key to the broader consumer acceptance and support for aquaculture.

While it's a nice luxury to be able to afford to source wild species from around the globe, costs are helping chefs understand that aquaculture has an imporant role to play.

"It's really starting to grow now," Zervaduchi said of the acceptance. "There is economic pressure on chefs to make that shift."

Chefs are also beginning to understand that farmed fish isn't just about costs. There's also a story to tell to diners.

"We've really got to focus on it and get the chefs to understand, getting those stories out and using those certifications to show customers that its achieved best practices," Zervaduchi said.

--Drew Cherry

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October 6, 09:54 a.m. GMT

Harnessing the power of social media

With 70 million images uploaded to Instagram around the world per day, as just one example, chefs should harness the power of social media to help educate consumers about seafood and sustainability.

According to Irish chef JP McMahon, chefs should see social media platforms like Instagram, like Twitter, like Facebook as an opportunity to talk about sustainability and seafood.

“We can use our influence to change attitudes around seafood, educate about sustainability and highlight different species – a lot of people listen.”

-- Dominic Welling

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October 5, 14:08 p.m. GMT

Tackling fake news

"Fake news" is taking its toll on some seafood species -- tilapia in particular -- thanks to the ability to spread information to all corners of the Internet.

Could 'fake news' kill seafood consumption?

Read more

"Even for all of us doing the right thing, we can all be impacted by these unfounded bogus stories," Bidfood Australia National Seafood Development Manager Brett Patience said.

So how best to tackle it?

Patience said that while the instinct might be to fight back publicly, it can backfire.

"Dealing with those stories head-on is not necessarily the best thing," he said.

More important, he said, is focused outreach.

"The first people we really want to contact is our customers affected and make sure the get the facts," Patience added.

Gfresh's Anthony Wan put the onus of combating the news onto the industry, and noted that e-commerce platforms like his own can then disseminate that information to consumers.

"I think it actually requires leadership from people in this room," Wan said.

-- Drew Cherry

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October 5, 13:45 p.m. GMT

Chinese ecommerce's massive opportunity

Chinese online retailer JD.com now has 200 million active users, and with the Chinese middle class growing and demanding more quality seafood, the opportunities are mind-boggling.

"In China, online is the first choice for buying things," JD.com Sourcing and Procurement Manager Frank Huang said.

The key for JD.com -- and the key for future expansion of ecommerce development around the world -- has been its investment in logistics.

"Five years ago we could not provide seafood to our customers," Huang said.

Gfresh's Anthony Wan pointed to Alibaba founder Jack Ma's concept of "new retail," where online and offline retail worlds merge.

"These are developments coming out at a very rapid pace in China," Wan said.

However, despite the fast developments in ecommerce, "a better question is to ask what will never change," Wan said.

Healthy, safe and good-tasting products are, in the end, the key.

"If you focus on those core values, I think you already know where the industry will head," Wan said.

--Drew Cherry

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October 5, 13:30 p.m. GMT

28 different states, 28 different habits

The EU seafood market comprises 500 million consumers and is worth €55 billion, but while per capita expenditure is increasing, consumption is decreasing, according to Chiara Bacci from the European Commission’s DG MARE.

In 2016 per capita household expenditure was up 1 percent at €107 but per capita consumption was down 2 percent to 25.1 kilograms.

“It is the biggest world market for fishery and aquaculture products, but more money is spent on less fish.”

But there are 28 member states in the EU and each has their own individual habits when it come to seafood – but some trends are universal.

DG Mare did a survey of some 30,000 EU citizens and discovered price and quality are the main drivers – if the seafood was cheaper, people would buy more of it. Wild is also generally preferred over farmed, however a similar number of people have no preference “representing a great opportunity to farmed”.

Stability in supply is also important for retailers, where most – 74 percent – of fish is bought, representing another opportunity for farmed.

“So farmed products are likely to increase their presence in the EU market, consumers are willing to buy more and discover new things, so innovation is key.”

-- Dominic Welling

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October 5, 12:51 p.m. GMT

Small fish in a big pond

Irish seafood companies McBride Fishing Company, Shellfish De La Mer and Sofrimar realized that they needed to find a way to break into the lucrative Chinese market. But how?

The group realized that alone, entering the market would be too much of a challenge. But by combining their forces, the small producers could have enough size and scope to elbow their way in.

In 2012, the companies, which combined account for €50 million in sales, established the joint venture Ocean Jade Seafood to reach the Chinese market with Irish-branded products. The result? A foothold in a new market that has become an important part of the individual companies' success.

"There are a lot of small producers that may be doing things right but just don't have the access to the large markets," McBride Fishing's Hugh McBride said.

--Drew Cherry

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October 5, 12:34 p.m. GMT

Ireland targeting China with rock oysters

Ireland’s seafood industry was worth €1.1 billion in 2016 and a large chunk of this came from aquaculture.

By far the country’s largest aquaculture business, and most valuable, is salmon farming, the majority of which is certified organic. In 2016 the sector produced 16,000 metric tons worth €100 million.

But the country is also seeing growth in other areas and exploring news ones such as seaweed, said Jim O’Toole, from Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Rock oyster farming is also a growing sector for Ireland. The country produced 10,000 metric tons worth €41 million in 2016 “and we’ve started to target the Chinese market, with high grade oysters”.

The country also has two types of blue mussel farming, one extensive farming, worth €6 million, but also a more eco-friendly version using longlines suspended under barrels. These are certified organic and mostly go to the fresh market in France, said O’Toole.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 5, 11:55 a.m. GMT

AlgaPrime DHA nabs 2017 Innovation Award

AlgaPrime DHA, a native, whole algae feed ingredient high in omega-3 DHA, has won the 2017 Global Aquaculture Innovation Award.

Walter Rakitsky, emerging business & corporate account leadership for Corbion, formerly TerraVia, accepted the award. He leads emerging business activities to identify and commercialize new applications for algae products. He is currently helping to commercialize AlgaPrime DHA, a long chain omega-3 rich algae product for the aquaculture, pet and livestock feed markets.

GAA established the Global Aquaculture Innovation Award in 2012 to recognize individuals and companies finding new solutions to the key challenges facing aquaculture.

This year was the strongest competition to date, with a total of 18 applications representing 12 countries. Many of the innovations originated from the aquafeed ingredients sector.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 5, 11:17 a.m. GMT

Better to under-promise and over-deliver

Unlike many other more mature sectors, there is a lot of passion in the aquaculture industry, there are a lot of entrepreneurs, and a lot of optimism, according to Gorjan Nikolik, senior analyst at Rabobank.

But when it comes to gaining investment, it is “better to under promise and over deliver,” he said. “Be realistic, and you will gain investor trust.”

Banks have long memories and in the past where they have lost a lot of money in the sector makes securing funding again “like fighting an uphill battle.”

But one way around this is by communicating better with potential partners. “It is about speaking the same language and almost over communicating,” said Michael Donner, of Pontos Aqua Holdings.

Jamie Stein from Devonian Capital agreed and said it is about understand what each side – investor and entrepreneur – can do.

“Conversations can be more productive and an intermediary does helps – ask a lot of stupid questions because they’re not stupid. Let the other party walk in your shoes a little bit.”

Explain what investors will be investing in and why, how their funds will be used. “And make sure to explain that with any investment the financial model will not be delivered in real life.”

-- Dominic Welling

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October 5, 10:57 a.m. GMT

We’re going to need a LOT more money

Although there has been a shift in investor attitudes to land-based farming recently, “if land based is going to be significant – we’re going to need a lot more money,” said Jamie Stein from Devonian Capital.

“There has been a shift and we’ve seen a lot more investor acceptance around growing fish on land.”

He cited the likes of Ralco in shrimp and Atlantic Sapphire in salmon, who have so far done a “phenomenal job getting investors into the space”. And capital markets are good at reacting to success, so if they start pulling it off, more could follow.

Nevertheless there is still a pretty big gap between investors who could come into the space and where they “need to get their head at” in terms of understanding it.

“They want to know why it’s not worked in the past, why hasn’t it been successful.”

So it the market wants to make land based farming happen faster, there needs to be much more transparency to help investors understand why it hasn’t worked, said Stein.

Gorjan Nikolik, senior analyst at Rabobank, said the bank was a “neutral but critical observer for now” when it comes to land-based farming.

“We’ve seen a lot of disasters in the past and it’s still on peoples’ minds. I know we shouldn’t dwell on the past but it is a legacy the sector has – it is still a very risky field.

“We want to see some of the leading companies step into this area first.”

-- Dominic Welling

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October 5, 10:48 a.m. GMT

What volumes might alternative protein bring?

Rabobank's Gorjan Nikolik gave a look at what protein production for aquaculture feed use might look like if the new alternative technologies live up to their promise.

From 2014-2016, annual meal production from fish alone was at around 4.4 million metric tons. Following the recovery of El Nino, another 500,000 metric tons was added to that level. If fishmeal prices cooperate (see the previous post), "suddenly these business models might be successful and then we'll have another 500,000 metric tons before 2022."

--Drew Cherry

October 5, 10:43 a.m. GMT

It all depends on fishmeal

Gorjan Nikolik, a senior analyst with Rabobank, said alternative feed ingredients are clearly on the cusp of some explosive growth, but with one mitigating factor: fishmeal prices.

"The amount of capital and the top names that have entered this sector to me are indicative that smart money is on this," Nikolik said.

With Bunge, DSM, Cargill, ADM and others exploring everything from algae to bacterial proteins to insects, clearly the technology is for real.

However, the development of these alternatives depend largely on one thing: fishmeal prices.

Prices today at are around $1,200 per metric ton -- and that's not high enough, Nikolik said.

"If we stay at this level, I think a lot of the alternative protein producers will not grow as they can," he said.

If prices get toward the $2,000 level, "suddenly we'll see many of these alternatives come in."

--Drew Cherry

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October 5, 09:39 a.m. GMT

Brexit causing all sort of problems for Ireland

Ireland exports around 40 percent of its agri-food products to the United Kingdom, so the Brexit vote is not good news for the country at all.

“We are incredibly dependent on that market, so Brexit poses enormous challenges for the Irish economy in general but for the agri-food sector in particular,” said Jim Power from Jim Power Economics Limited.

So far the most obvious and immediate impact of the Brexit vote is the sharp fall in value of sterling.

As the UK is the “single most important market for Ireland” the weakening of the Sterling versus the Euro “poses all sorts of problems for Ireland” as both imports and exports will be hit.

Sterling is also out of favor due to the “bizarre political backdrop in the UK” at the moment, said Power.

Brexit is a massive issue shrouded in uncertainty, and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds, and what Ireland’s trading relationship with the UK will look like after it leaves the EU.

It is resulting in a “phenomenon of cross-border shopping” between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which is presenting “a massive challenge” for food retailers in the south.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 17:45 p.m. GMT

India ban: still a question, still a concern

Will Rash of The Big Prawn Co. said that the best approach on the potential ban of Indian shrimp is "to assume it might happen."

"Any sensible import business will recognize that risk and start to take precautions," he said.

The Big Prawn Co. is doing just that, by "removing ourself from dependency on that country," Rash said.

Given that the 80,000 metric tons of shrimp imported from India only returned 13 positive for antibiotics, the reaction might be a bit severe, Rash said, but "the EU will do what the EU feels it needs to do."

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 17:37 p.m. GMT

Consistency and connection

Jennifer Wandler, director of category management at US Foods, said her group is unabashed in their support of aquaculture.

"We actually extol the virtues of farming," she said. "A lot of things consumers care about, aquaculture brings to the table."

Most important, for customers at least, is the word "consistency."

"When you can say that to a foodservice operator, you had them at 'Hello,'" Wandler said.

Aquaculture can also give foodservice groups a connection to the source of their food, an increasingly important factor for consumers.

"Whenever you can connect a buyer to a source with a story, I think you win," she said.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 17:26 p.m. GMT

Tilapia troubles

Alex Ko, of tilapia and feed giant Grobest, told GAA that 2017 has been one of change in the tilapia sector.

"US demand stopped growing," Ko said. Chinese tilapia makes up 90 percent of frozen tilapia in US, Ko noted, but the market price at the pond level is at cost, "so the tilapia farmers aren't happy."

Liu Rongjie, of Hainan Xingtai Fishery Co., said that the market has been on a downturn since 2015.

A negative consumer perception and price competition with pangasius in particular have made for tough times.

Though Chinese tilapia production fell by 20 percent and US imports increased this year, the export value and profits have declined.

They only way forward, Rongjie said, is to build consumer confidence in tilapia through certification and active engagement.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 17:18 p.m. GMT

Fish is fish

BJ's Wholesale Club, one of the major US big box retailers, doesn't worry about differentiating wild from farmed -- it focuses on delivering what the customer wants.

"We just try to sell fish as fish," VP of Quality Assurance and Environmental Stewardship Scott Williams said. The group puts the focus on ensuring that its customers can find what they want, and find it in the best quality. When it comes to questions -- tilapia has been getting a lot of them lately -- Williams says the key is assuring customers that BJ's knows its source.

"We explain to them that we're monitoring it and keeping track of what they're buying and they can trust us," Williams said. "You're buying stuff from us in 2-pound bags, so you know you like it."

Tilapia sales, as is the case with other retailers and foodservice outlets, are showing some decline, Williams said, largely the result of some of the negative press surrounding the fish.

That said, "two things keep me up at night," Williams said. Labor issues is the first. The second is seafood losing its premium.

With Amazon pushing down Whole Foods prices, consumers may get the wrong impression of the value of seafood.

The top seller for the group is shrimp, but it also sells big volumes of tilapia and salmon as well.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 17:05 p.m. GMT

Helping out the little guys

Small-scale aquaculture producers are a critical part of the seafood supply chain, but they need help.

The Big Prawn Co. would like to work more with small-scale suppliers, but "it requires a certain amount of work and investigation," Big Prawn's Will Rash said.

Smaller-scale aquaculture producers often find certification programs burdensome and expensive, and yet these producers can sometimes hold the key to improving the sustainability of the areas they work in.

"There's a real opportunity to actually improve the environment from past damage scenarios," Rash said. "There should be a real incentive for industry to reverse that damage."

Small farmers can make that happen, but they need support, he said.

"The way forward is to be able to pull and organize groups of farmers together, create a program they are all working toward," he said.

Ryland-Langley said buyers have a responsibility and can play a huge role in helping some of these smaller producers developed.

"If the buyer is just saying, 'You don't have the certification so we're not going to buy it,' that's not enough," he said.

BJ's Wholesale Club VP of Quality Assurance and Environmental Stewardship Scott Williams agreed.

"We have to be careful to say that if we get all this product certified, it's going to be this panacea," he said. "We have to get on the ground and work with these small farmers."

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 16:55 p.m. GMT

Black tiger blackout

After production recently fell off a cliff leaving traditional buyers in the US and EU scrambling for product, the question on everyone’s lips is how and when will black tiger production comeback.

Unfortunately, according to experts at GOAL, it is unlikely to come bouncing back anytime soon.

Jim Anderson, from the University of Florida, said that although there is a price incentive to farm black tiger, this is most likely outweighed by disease problems.

“If you look at the price difference, there is clearly a premium for black tiger over vannamei, so there’s an incentive to increase production, but given diseases, I can’t say how much that will actually happen.”

Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) President George Chamberlain, believes it is all to do with diseases and a lack of available decent post larvae.

There are a few companies working on solutions to this such as Moana Technologies in Hawaii, he said, while the CP Group has also made significant progress with its breeding program.

“The real challenges come down to available good quality post larvae, and better reproduction techniques,” he said.

--Dominic Welling

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October 4, 16:25 p.m. GMT

Don't lose your EPA, DHA or USP

Waitrose's Jeremy Ryland-Langely said that in all the hunt for alternatives to fishmeal and oil, the aquaculture industry -- salmon in particular -- needs to be careful that it doesn't undercut one of it's biggest selling points.

"We're very concerned about the levels of EPA and DHA falling in salmon," Ryland-Langely said, noting that Waitrose is able to promote that a single serving of salmon gives consumers the EPA and DHA they need for the week. "We know that's a unique proposition on the high street."

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 16:10 p.m. GMT

On the farm

Following Waitrose's Jeremey Ryland-Langley's admission that farmed fish purchasing wasn't as easy as it's sometimes made out to be, The Big Prawn Co.'s Will Rash pointed out that buyers do have the advantage of being able to visit farms and have input into the audit and procurement process that just isn't possible in the wild sector.

"It does have the added benefit for more accessible, which can facilitate slightly easier sourcing," he said.

As more farms take up certification, he noted, buyers can have even more confidence in how and where they are sourcing from.

"For customers like myself, I can paly a greater role in influencing something that I can go and see, and visit and be a part of and have some form of input into," he said. "In turn I can relay back to my suppliers what my market wants and what our customers want."

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 16:10 p.m. GMT

Wild is just fine

Jeremy Ryland-Langley has been with UK retailer Waitrose for 40 years, giving him a unique long-term buyer's perspective on the development of the seafood sector. And while most of the GOAL conference is typically spent praising the aquaculture sector, Ryland-Langely spends more of his time worried about farmed fish supplies.

Fifty-four percent of Waitrose's volume is wild caught, and in the past 15-20 years, the only major supply distruption the retailer has had was a volcano eruption in Iceland.

"My view is that [aquaculture sourcing] is much more challenging," he said.

Global warming has brought increased algal blooms, a proliferation of jellyfish and a higher incidence of gill disease in the salmon sector, he noted, and on shrimp diseases such as EMS and whitespot add a troubling x factor for a seafood buyer.

"The farmed arena actually gives me way more challenges," he said. "Aquaculture has a massively important role to play, but there are a lot of challenges that have to be addressed."

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 16:03 p.m. GMT

Med driving growth in Bluefin tuna production

Bluefin tuna production is expected to climb more than 9 percent in 2018, driven predominantly in the Mediterranean, but also in Mexico and Japan.

Production – which is mainly ranched with a little bit of full cycle aquaculture – has been doubled since 2013, said Ragnar Tveteras, from the University of Stavanger.

“Our sources have split production into Mediterranean, Mexico and Japan, but according to estimates they have been very much driven by the Mediterranean.”

In the past decade, since 2007, Bluefin tuna production has increased 68.5 percent.

aca818b9cd4d3bec861d292ebeed42a4  Photo: IntraFish

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 14:47 p.m. GMT

Vessel sustainability to the masses

UK seafood association Seafish has been developing its Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) vessel-certification standard for years, and as it gained traction, Seafish Head of Advocacy Libby Woodhatch told attendees at GOAL 2017 that industry members from around the globe have wanted to know more.

"We had a lot of people saying, we want this standard, we need it, how do we get it?" Woodhatch said.

Seafish has answered. On Wednesday, the group announced it would take its standard international, and is already undergoing pilot tests to gain insight into how the scheme would work in new non-UK fisheries.

Why does that matter at GOAL? With so much attention on the sustainability of fisheries being used in fishmeal and oil, the RFS can be an important tool.

--Drew Cherry

October 4, 14:00 p.m. GMT

Weak tilapia sales and big shrimp

Jennifer Wandler, director of category management for US Foods, said there were "really no huge surprises" in the supply outlook presentations, but noted that the downturn in tilapia sales in the United States is troubling.

"We're definitely seeing that on our side, and we're working hard to turn that around," she said.

US Foods has a four-stap BAP standard requirement for its tilapia, and is communicating with its customers to help combat negative information.

Another trend that is of concern for foodservice suppliers is the decline in larger shrimp sizes.

"That truly impacts us," she said. "We like big shrimp and we cannot lie."

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 13:08 p.m. GMT

Guangdong wins F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge

Guangdong Evergreen Food Industry is the winner of the F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge, scooping a $200,000 prize.

The challenge was a contest trying to encourage industry look at what are alternatives are available to fishmeal and oil.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 13:08 p.m. GMT

‘Demonized’ IFFO slaps down F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge

Andrew Mallison came out all guns blazing – and firmly pointed at Kevin Fitzsimmons from the F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge – during GOAL’s first panel on aquafeed.

Mallison lambasted Fitzsimmons and the Fish-Free challenge for “demonizing” the fishmeal and fishoil industry and for “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

Mallison defended his industry, defiantly refuting claims by Fitzsimmons that using fishmeal and fishoil in fish feed was unsustainable, and even going so far as to link it to slavery problems in Asia.

“The idea the fishmeal industry is responsible for slavery in anyway is outrageous,” said Mallison.

By actively seeking to damage IFFO, Mallison said the F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge “damaged its credibility.”

According to Mallison, 45 percent of the world's fishmeal and fish oil production is certified under the IFFO RS scheme.

“As far as progress in certification – we’re proud, we feel we’re along way ahead of any terrestrial alternative,” he said.

Contrary to what people assume, not only are costs going down, availability is increasing and “recovering more”.

“So we see an upside,” said Mallison. “But given the growth of aquaculture, we recognize the need for alternatives and we welcome them, we want to see the aquaculture industry go forward,” he said.

“There is no point demonizing responsibly sourced fishmeal and fish oil, we need all the materials.”

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 12:14 p.m. GMT

BAP scheme recognized by GSSI

The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s (GAA) Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) is the world’s first aquaculture certification program to be recognized by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), GAA and GSSI announced jointly today.

The GSSI Steering Board approved the recognition, determining that the two-star certification against the BAP Finfish and Crustacean Farm Standards and BAP Salmon Farm Standards are in alignment with all "Essential Components" of the GSSI Global Benchmark Tool, independently verifying alignment with the FAO Technical Guidelines on Aquaculture Certification.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 11:40 a.m. GMT

Thailand shrimp: Good and bad news

In interviews with GAA presented by President George Chamberlain, Thai Union's Rittirong Boonmechote said Thailand could see some recovery, growing 5 percent next year. CP Group Senior VP Robins McIntosh said he sees around 300,000 metric tons this year, around the same as 2016.

EHP remains a problem, McIntosh said, and said more work needs to be done on improving biosecurity at hatcheries.

"I see opportunities to pump up the immune systems of shrimp to deal with more challenging future conditions," McIntosh said.

A shrinkage in production area is also a factor that could affect output, though yields are improving.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 11:20 a.m. GMT

Ecuador, India areas of growing shrimp production – not to mention Saudi Arabia

While shrimp production in southeast Asia is a “mixed bag”, production in China is “at best” flat – however, elsewhere there Latin America, led by Ecuador, and India are seeing significant growth, said Anderson.

bd69e74fe3c57b791bdd7533abd3bcb4  Photo: IntraFish

“Ecuador for the past 8-9 years has done very well, in contrast to Mexico and Brazil which are really not living up to their vision,” he said.

Slightly more unusual is a significant growth in production from Saudi Arabia “they are getting in gear, and their growth expectation for the year is bullish”.

57a2570358d43a647e7e3e68b7f9c392  Photo: IntraFish

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 11:20 a.m. GMT

Pangasius production still on the rise

Vietnam now accounts for around 50 percent of pangasius production, but India and Bangladesh are quickly catching up.

Pangasius production is expected to grow by 10 percent in 2018 to 2.7 million metric tons.

For catfish overall, the picture gets more complex, with Brazil, Egypt, Malaysia and others all producing volumes, but mainly for the domestic market.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 11:15 a.m. GMT

Salmon outlook: slow growth, big prices

Ragnar Tveterås, a professor with the University of Stavanger, was given the hefty task of giving GOAL attendees an overview of key finfish around the world.

When it came to farmed salmonids, the story is one of muted growth, and high prices.

"They're printing money," Tveterås said.

Tveterås' estimates production will grow 7 percent to 2.42 million MT in 2018, and then to 2.492 million metric tons in 2019.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 10:58 a.m. GMT

Global shrimp production to grow 4.8% annually through 2019

Although FAO figures show a consistent increase in global shrimp production between 2000 and 2015, James Anderson suggests you “don’t pay too much attention to the [FAO figures]”.

Instead, Anderson tends to use combined data based on both the FAO figures and the results from a survey of people operating within the industry – ‘GOAL data’.

And the difference between the two “shows incredible variance”, said Anderson.

285756a8f987ad88731f8aeef4984370  Photo: IntraFish

According to his data, after a dip in production of around 7 percent in 2015, the projected combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of global shrimp between 2016 and 2019 is at 4.8 percent, ultimately hitting around 5 million metric tons in 2019.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 10:00 a.m. GMT

A bird's eye view

Alltech founder Pearse Lyons gave his view on the aquaculture sector, and the need for the industry to develop sustainably if it's to meet growing global food demands.

"When we talk about the future of aquaculture, in reality we're talking about the future of food, and in reality we're talking about the future of sustainable food," Lyons said.

From the end of China's one-child policy to India's fast-rising population to EU's migrant crisis to Trump being, well, Trump, the world's geopolitical and resource landscape requires innovative solutions, he noted.

"Despite all the doom and gloom -- and I don't do 'doom and gloom' -- people need to be fed," Lyons said.

What's the best way to feed this growing population sustainably? Lyons showed graphics of protein and energy retention rates for land-based animals.

"It's not a pretty picture, and it's certainly not a very efficient picture," he said.

Aquaculture, meanwhile, outdoes them all.

But from mislabeling to dropping DHA levels to food safety to transparency, the industry has to address its key challenges. But Lyons offered an optimistic view.

"Entrepreneurs love problems, and entrepreneurs don't run way from problems, entrepreneurs embrace problems," he said.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 9:56 a.m. GMT

Ireland’s ambitious plans for aquaculture

Ireland has big plans for aquaculture and the funding and plans in place to achieve it, said Michael Creed, the country's minister for agriculture, food and the marine.

As the EU's annual seafood trade deficit passes €19 billion, all countries within the bloc must become less reliant on importing seafood from elsewhere.

"We won’t be able to afford this for much longer, as other countries compete for the same supply, so we have to build up our own aquaculture," said Creed.

Ireland has enjoyed a period of modest growth over the last few years or so in terms of aquaculture, but more must be done.

"We have ambitious plans for aquaculture," said Creed, and the development funding to achieve it, both from government and the EU through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) - so watch this space.

-- Dominic Welling

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October 4, 9:20 a.m. GMT

Looking back, looking ahead

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is celebrating 20 years, and GAA's Wally Stevens opened GOAL 2017 by highlighting GAA President George Chamberlain's role in laying out a vision for the organization, and looking back on how far the industry has come.

"Aquaculture is growing around the world and we need to celebrate that," Stevens said.

While a few decades ago the industry was focused on blocks and volume, the industry today has become focused on the consumer and key issues such as sustainble, predictable supply.

"Today, we talk about fresh fish without bones, we talk about seafood with sauces, shrimp without shells, new interesting species from around the world," Stevens said.

From ecommerce developments to Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, the future of aquaculture will no doubt continue to change at a rapid pace to meet the world's needs, Stevens noted.

--Drew Cherry

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October 4, 9:14 a.m. GMT

GOAL 2017 gets underway

Global Aquaculture Alliance's Global Aquaculture Leadership kicked off in Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland, with North American attendees dominating the event.

Communications Director Steven Hedlund began the conference with audience polls on the make up of attendees. Participants were primarily from North America, according to those that participated in the poll, with around 40 percent from the producer and supplier side, and around 20 percent from the buyer side. Around 40 percent of respondents said they supplied crustaceans, and around 25 percent were salmonid suppliers. The remainder said they supplied marine finfish, freshwater finfish and bivalves.

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