GOAL 2016 blog: Recap four days of news

Read our full coverage of the event from the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 3.21 p.m. CST

GSSI wants 30% of seafood to be certified by a recognized scheme by 2020

The Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) is hoping to see 30 percent of seafood certified to a GSSI-recognized scheme by 2020, according to Herman Wisse project manager at the organization.

The GSSI is expecting many more schemes to sign up to be benchmarked in the coming years, and will undertake a formal review of its tool in 2018 in a bid to keep it updated and relevant, Wisse said.

In July this year, the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification Program became the first such scheme to be recognized by the GSSI.

Wisse warned though that being recognized was not an easy process, and certification schemes need to meet 140 different components to be recognized by GSSI.

“If you want to do it and want to do it right, it’s not easy, it’s quite a lengthy process,” he said, but worth it in the end.

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Thursday, Sept. 22, 1.06 p.m. CST

Algal blooms on the rise

Chile’s seafood industry needs to prepare itself because Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are not going away anytime soon, according to Adolfo Alvial regional director for Chile’s Corporación De Fomento De La Producción (Corfo).

While Algal Blooms are fairly commonplace in Chile, the harmful sort – Brown and Red tides – are likely to become more “consistent and intensive,” warned Alvial.

In 2016 there were two “unprecedented” harmful algal blooms in a matter of four months; one brown tide followed by a red tide.

In a matter of a few days the Brown tide was dispersed in Chiloe impacting 33 farms, killing 30 million fish (8% of the inventory) and equivalent to 40,000 metric tons. The total loss was estimated at $600 million.

“HABs will be an increased risk as the distribution of harmful species has covered a larger area of the region and climate change creates favorable oceanographic conditions for them,” he said.

Consequently he urged that monitoring, forecast and mitigation methods in the country are updated and co-ordinated to serve all sectors in a timely manner.

Additionally, Alvial said a marine environment center for aquaculture and fisheries is necessary for Chilean Patagonia. This center should study and monitor hydrodynamic conditions, HABs, carrying capacity and zoning in the aquaculture and fishing areas, he said.

“Co-ordination between agencies is fundamental and urgent to reach effectiveness in forecasting and mitigating HABs in the future,” said Alvial.

Meanwhile, insurance costs have obviously increased as a result of recent events so it is important the aquaculture industry establishes plans to monitor, forecast and mitigate HABs as soon as possible, he said.

“We have to show the insurance companies that we’re taking action.”

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Thursday, Sept. 22, 11.39 a.m. CST

IPAs taking off in China

Intensive Pond Aquaculture (IPA) systems are seeing strong growth in China, due to the number of advantages they offer.

Since three systems launched in the country in 2013, there are now close to 500 IPAs in China, with many more to come, according to Jim Zhang from the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

The systems are flexible - there is no fixed module in terms of the dimensions of the cells or the forms of the cells or ponds, and they vary from place to place and species to species.

“It is not a miracle that can solve all you problems, but a tool that gives you more options to solve problems and make production more controllable, more profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly,” said Zhang.

Additionally IPAs offer high yields, more than 300 percent higher than the average pond yield, which helps offset the increased costs of pond rent, feed, labor and energy, said Zhang.

IPA research started in the United States more than 10 years ago, but there was no extension. The US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) brought IPA to China in 2013 for tackling the bottlenecks and was immediately accepted by the industry.

By 2016 there are in total around 500 IPA cells in the entire country, mainly in Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang and Shanghai areas. More than 10 different freshwater species are being cultured with IPA technology and IPA’s for saltwater species are in consideration, said Zhang.

“There is fast development for the coming 5 years and in more provinces,” he said.

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Thursday, Sept. 22, 10.41 a.m. CST

Bergen professor wins Global Aquaculture Innovation & Leadership Award

University of Bergen Professor Karin Pittman has accepted this year’s Global Aquaculture Innovation & Leadership Award for Quantidoc’s mucosal mapping technology.

Quantidoc is the commercialization of Pittman’s fish biology research, which uses stereology to measure and better understand mucous on gill, gut and skin tissues — the first line of defense for fish.

These tissues are crucial in the fight against aquatic diseases and parasites like sea lice, a major challenge for the salmon-farming industry.

There were eight nominees for the 2016 award, said GAA’s George Chamberlain, including Humberto Villareal for his innovation incubator in Mexico; Joao Rocha for selective breeding and genetics in shrimp; Roullier Group for its probiotic algae confection; Inve for a range of hatchery feed innovations; Jeff Sedacca, for his work promoting small scale shrimp farmers; Kevin Edwards for his certification body SGS and William Connor for his investment in the “Blue Evolution”.

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Thursday, Sept. 22, 8.50 a.m. CST

How to produce 140 million additional tons of fish by 2050

The world needs to produce an additional 140 million metric tons of fish by 2050, tripling the size of the current industry, according to Mike Velings, CEO of Aqua-Spark.

“We simply don’t have enough,” he said. Average fish consumption has already climbed from 9.9 kilograms per capita in the 1960s to 20 kilograms per capita this year, he said.

But to get there – based on the assumption of farming sensible species with a feed conversion rate of less than two and a half – will require an extra 300 to 400 million metric tons of feed, he warned.

So sustainable alternatives to fishmeal are paramount, he said. Total soy production is not enough and currently around 275 million metric tons and the industry has limited potential to grow he said.

“Alternatives will take years to develop, but we will get there if we collaborate across the sector.”

In this vein, Velings outlined his philosophy of creating a “portfolio ecosystem” which will include investing in farming operations, inputs, disease battling, technology, retail, marketing, and distribution.

Aqua-Spark currently has 60 to 80 companies across these sectors in which it intends to invest. But to do this all companies must sign an agreement to collaborate.

“Working together is key,” said Velings.

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 5.32 p.m. CST

Embrace change, embrace the Internet

“Online and on phones - that’s how people shop nowadays especially the middle classes and young people,” according to JD.com’s Clark Meng.

That is why the company – China’s equivalent of Amazon – is moving into fresh food e-commerce including seafood.

The company has had online capabilities for mobile phones, digital products, computers, appliances and even frozen and chilled food, for many years, but fresh is new.

“This is a good time to move into this sector, said Meng. “The Internet will bring efficiency to this market, of course there will be challenges, but you will see the benefits that come out of it,” he said.

With less than 1 percent penetration rate for online fresh e-commerce in China, there is “enormous” room for future growth, said Meng.

While major players have joined the market, most have yet to make a profit as fresh e-commerce requires complex infrastructure making it difficult to build supply chains and maintain a low spoilage rate. However, Meng says JD.com can leverage its existing network to make this easier.

Nielsen predicts that China’s fresh food e-commerce market will grow to sales of more than $15 billion in 2017 and more than $22.5 billion by 2018.

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 5.03 p.m. CST

Fight or flight?

During a panel at GOAL today it appears different major players in the foodservice space are split on how they would react should they discover issues of slave labor or human rights abuses in their supply chain.

While Laky Zervudachi, group sustainability director for Direct Seafoods, said in no uncertain terms, “slavery is abhorrent”, he said should his company discover bad practices in its supply chain he would take the position of trying to change it, “we can’t walk away from it.”

“There is no advantage in walking away,” he said. “It is beholden on us as the buyer of responsible seafood to work closely with suppliers and show them the best way forward. If not you’re just walking away from the problem and leaving it for someone else to deal with.”

That said, Zervudachi said ultimately the company would have to walk away if those changes were not forthcoming.

Ben Wheeley senior purchasing manager fish and seafood Brakes Group, on the other hand said the company’s initial position “would be to stop buying from that business right away.”

“Then we would look at the business and say we will only purchase again if we see clear work from it to stop illegal practices,” he said.

Likewise, Joe Zhou senior director - supply chain at Red Lobster Seafood Company, said his company has “zero tolerance for that kind of behavior”.

As the world’s largest restaurant purchaser of seafood, Zhou said it takes its responsibility very seriously. “Our actions would be fast, swift and effective,” he said.

Charlie Lousignont senior vice president of supply chain management for Brinker International, said slave labor was an “horrific practice” and an issue the industry should all strive very hard to eliminate.

“We’re fortunate to already have a supplier code of conduct in place. If we became aware of it would cease business immediately, unequivocally,” he said.

Zervudachi said Direct Seafoods was putting itself right at the forefront of trying to raise peoples’ awareness of these issues in seafood.

“Foodservice is a very broken up field,” he said. “But social ethics is a key issue that needs cracking down and we’re on the road but need to get there.”

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 3.10 p.m. CST

Supplier engagement is key

In today's globalized economy, outsourcing business operations doesn’t mean outsourcing responsibilities or risks -- or that a company's responsibility ends when a product is sold, according to Jeremy Prepscius, vice president at Business For Social Responsibility (BSR).

But -- using the example of canned tuna -- he conceded supply chains are complex and difficult to police entirely. “Good working conditions and transparency are among the top supply chain issues,” he said.

Sustainable supply chains depend on companies adopting and embedding an integrated system of internal, supplier-facing and collaborative efforts across industries and geographies, said Prepscius.

Accountable collaboration in particular is important -- working with others who share the same drive and ambition to accelerate change. "Many of today's challenges require collective commitment," said Prepscius.

But supplier engagement is key, and there are many ways to do this.

For example codes -- setting high, but realistic goals and adopting strategies and policies to achieve them.

Then there is communication - communicating expectations early with suppliers and engaging with them often to improve performance.

Auditing and assessment is also important as is finding mutual solutions to chronic problems.

“We are not talking about making it slightly better. It is a real problem with real issues that fundamentally affect people,” said Prepscius.

“It requires collaboration –one company itself can’t buy that solution, companies have to come together through collaboration to be successful.”

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 12.59 p.m. CST

Dublin to host GOAL 2017

Possibly the worst kept secret at this year’s event -- Dublin, Ireland, will be hosting GOAL 2017, Donal Maguire, director of aquaculture development at Bord Iascaigh Mhara/Irish Sea Fisheries Board, confirmed to delegates.

“We have a small but very vital aquaculture industry,” Maguire said. Aquaculture activity includes growing finfish, such as salmon and trout but also shellfish farming, including the cultivation of mussels, oysters and scallops.

The country produces 15,000 metric tons of salmon on average per year, worth around €135 million. In total the aquaculture industry is worth around €250 million, he said.

The event will take place between Oct.3 and Oct. 6 in 2017.

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 10.34 a.m. CST

Perception versus reality

According to Rolf Knecht, executive chef at the Shanghai Grand Hyatt Hotel, there has been a “tremendous improvement” in China in terms of regulations on seafood products but perception from consumers has not changed and people still believe it to be poor quality.

“It is the difference of perception versus the reality -- this needs to change but the question is how,” he said.

The Hyatt has a policy to go out and engage with the farms from which it sources product and to verify what is says in report happens on site.

“So it is about engaging with fish and shrimp farms, to make sure product is safe,” said Knecht.

Alan Orreal, director of culinary at Shanghai Disney Resort, agreed consumer perceptions need to change.

Disney is not compromising whatsoever when it comes to food safety, he said, and is there is a “very rigorous” food safety standard the company follows.

“We manage to find great products in China, world class products, and we do our best to promote that,” he said. “It is very easy to buy sustainable fish from Europe, but then there is the question of carbon footprint so we have to balance both things. So we look forward to working with new vendors in China, we’re open.”

Orreal said he was shocked to discover that only 5 percent of what is being produced is actually certified. He said he’d like to see more variety on certified products – “they are out there, they just need to be certified.”

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 10.00 a.m. CST

Transparency and traceability

Transparency and traceability are key to the online B2B seafood marketplace, according to Helen Gao from Gfresh.

“An online platform allows producers and exporters to fully disclose features, standards of products, certifications, country of origins, and any other quality standards from other parameters,” she said.

But traceability is the most critical feature demonstrating end to end tracking from the source to delivery in the customers hand or to the restaurant.

“There are a lot of stops between the source and the table,” said Gao. “We think less is better, reduce supply chain, lower the risk and make the product better quality.”

Alan Orreal, director of culinary at Shanghai Disney Resort, agreed about the importance of traceability.

“We at Disney like to work with vertically integrated operators that control the whole chain,” he said.

The company also has systems in place whereby it can trace products “to the hour, to the minute” he said.

However, Rolf Knecht, executive chef at the Shanghai Grand Hyatt Hotel, warned of the potential pitfalls of online platforms.

Citing a recent scam in China whereby an supplier was selling uncertified seafood as certified, he said “online platforms can do a lot of damage to work certifications body to do.”

“If Chinese companies want to get into online market, they have to be transparent. A lot of companies are doing good things but don’t talk about it.”

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 9.10 a.m. CST

Economics, not environment

The current concerns in the fishmeal and fish oil sector are “very much an economic issue,” said Giovani Turchini a professor at Australia’s Deakin University.

It is to do with supply and demand but it is an economic sustainability issue not an environmental sustainability issue, he said.

In reality production of fishmeal and fishoil has been relatively constant at around 5 million metric tons and 1 million metric tons respectively, over the years, but it is the commodity prices that have been soaring, Turchini said.

Fishmeal and fishoil inclusion in aquafeed is constantly and rapidly declining, he said. Predominantly because of the increasing prices reducing margins, but also due to the uncertain availability in terms of both quantity and quality.

"This results in constant reformulation and the technology is both challenging and expensive," Turchini.

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Wednesday, Sept. 21, 8.32 a.m. CST

Chinese market needs more certifications

Consumers in China are increasingly on the lookout for safe, high quality seafood products, and to be successful producers need to convince them their products meet these requirements.

“They want safe products, and high quality products, and producers need to distinguish their products from other products,” said Wang Maohua from China Registration, Certification & Accreditation Administration (CNCA).

“When you can prove products are good and safe, another precondition is the customer trusts your product, and believes they are safe.”

In addition, import countries also have a lot of legal requirements and are getting stricter towards products from China, said Maohua.

While the country currently does quality checks on final products,” this is not enough”, and it needs new approaches to meet new requirements.

Increasingly sourcing companies are requiring farms and factories to prove themselves their products are up to standard. This is where certification schemes come in – they need to demonstrate their own quality.

Schemes such as EUREPGAP, and Global Gap, are important and in China, and the CCFA is in the process of creating other sourcing standards. There is also the Chinese GAP.

“In the future we will use third parties to play a more important role,” said Maohua.

The Chinese demand has changed -- consumers want higher quality products but there is not sufficient supply.

“The needs of consumers have changed and the environment, sustainability, food safety, all these issues have become concerns,” said Maohua.

 “If we cannot convince them, they will not buy, but will fly overseas to buy products. So we need to convince consumers – we need more certifications to show conformation with certain specifications.”

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Tuesday, Sept. 20, 6.36 p.m. CST

Tilapia production expected to climb 4.5% in 2017

Global tilapia production will reach around 5.5 million metric tons this year, up from 5.3 million last year, but is predicted to increase a further 4.5 percent in 2017 hitting 5.8 million metric tons, according to Ragnar Tveteras, business economist at University of Stavanger.

China is still the leading producer of tilapia with around 1.7 million metric tons, followed by Indonesia with just over 1 million and then Egypt with 665,300 metric tons on average.

Pangasius production, meanwhile, also continues to climb, and Vietnam still represents more than 50 percent of production.

Production of pangasius from the major producing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam is expected to reach around 2.2 million metric tons in 2016 but climb to more than 2.5 million from these countries in 2018.

Of these countries, Indian production will see the most growth, increasing from around 447,500 metric tons this year to around 640,000 metric tons in 2018 -- up 43 percent.

Total production of catfish species, including pangasius, is expected to reach nearly 4.9 million metric tons in 2018, up from 4.4 million this year, said Tveteras.

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Tuesday, Sept. 20, 6.00 p.m. CST

Mediterranean bass and bream production continues fall in 2016

Mediteranean seabass and seabream production is continuing to slip in 2016 after reaching a peak of 326,900 metric tons in 2014, according to figures presented by Ragnar Tveteras, business economist at University of Stavanger during the first day of GOAL.

Production dropped down to 309,100 metric tons in 2015 and is predicted to fall further to 301,400 metric tons in 2016, the figures said.

"Prices have not provided much incentive to grow," said Tveteras, but are starting to edge up now, meaning he expects a 10 percent growth in production to 330,000 metric tons next year.

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Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5.05 p.m. CST

Global shrimp production to hit 4.5 million tons by 2018

Although notoriously difficult to get hold of good, reliable information, James Anderson gave his annual update on the global shrimp market this morning.

“This is timely data from the industry,” he said. “We hope we have the trend right, even if the numbers are not completely correct.”

According to Anderson’s graphs shrimp production is likely to be around 4.1 million metric tons in 2016, up from just below 4 million in 2015 and gradually climbing to around 4.5 million metric tons in 2018.