Only a small percentage of the world’s farmed shrimp production can be classified as showing improvement toward sustainability, and there are significant, ongoing sustainability concerns across all major farmed shrimp production regions, particularly in China, according to a new farmed shrimp strategy report from Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP).

The report, released today, is a companion to the upcoming 2018 shrimp sector report relating to SFP’s Target 75 Initiative, a global movement launched last year that sets the goal of seeing 75 percent of the world’s seafood production in key seafood sectors operating sustainably or improving toward sustainable production by the close of 2020.

According to the report, SFP classifies only 8.8 percent of global production of farmed shrimp as “improving,” defined in this case as “certified to one of the three leading international standards: Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP, minimum 2-star), or GlobalG.A.P; or if it is from an Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP) making regular, verifiable progress.”

The report does not classify any of the world’s shrimp production as sustainable, “because a formal, agreed-upon definition of ‘sustainable’ has yet to emerge in aquaculture.” Existing certifications provide clear mechanisms to improve farm-level practices, and these are important efforts; but they will not deliver a sustainable aquaculture industry alone.

The findings of the report urge the widespread adoption of zonal management—a regional, coordinated approach to aquaculture management based on the FAO Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture—to manage the shared risks in a rapidly growing industry. Without stronger coordinated management, the farmed shrimp sector is at high risk of supply chain disruption from severe disease outbreak or exceeding environmental carrying capacity limits. SFP, along with Conservation International and the University of California Santa Barbara, recently published a guide for governments and industry on moving toward best practices.

The farmed shrimp strategy report noted that early improvement efforts toward zonal management are happening in specific provinces within Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. However, “improvement efforts will have to expand into China to achieve Target 75, because China accounts for almost 45 percent of the sector,” SFP analysts wrote in the report.

Jim Cannon, CEO of SFP, said, “At first glance, the numbers appear bleak and highlight the scope of the challenge. We’ve launched an Aquaculture Supply Chain Roundtable (SR) to create a simple platform to engage industry, and as a first step retailers and importers should begin asking one question of their supply chain: Which province does my shrimp come from?”

“The report highlights the need to work collaboratively across the supply chain to launch aquaculture improvement projects at the zonal scale and improve aquaculture governance,” noted Casey Marion of Beaver Street Fisheries.

Contact: Sean Murphy, Communications Director