Pangasius has been in the media again recently, with reports that the fish is allegedly bred in dirty water and may therefore contain bacteria. We at Pittman Seafoods think this is an unfortunate case of misleading reporting. A great many norms and certification standards apply in fish farming, which means that the consumer can rest assured they are purchasing healthy and sustainably-sourced fish.
It’s not always easy for consumers to know where the fish they are buying comes from and whether it is sustainably sourced. However, the fish sector has been greatly professionalised in this regard. Two labels that guarantee sustainable fish are the MSC and ASC label (recognisable on the packaging by their blue and green logos respectively).
A word of explanation regarding ASC and the certification of pangasius in particular: The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, non-profit organisation, founded in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH). The ASC promotes the responsible breeding of fish and other seafood by means of a certification and labelling system. Fish farms are encouraged to make the switch to responsible breeding methods that reduce the impact on water, nature, local residents and the environment.
The ASC’s standards and norms have been developed in close partnership with the WWF and in consultation with more than 2,000 partners worldwide, including fish farms, supermarkets and food service organisations, NGOs, governmental organisations and scientific institutes. These ASC standards entail specific requirements that must be satisfied by fish farms and are focused on both the environment and the societal consequences of fish farming.
ASC PANGASIUS STANDARD
The ASC Pangasius Standard ensures that fish farmers meet strict requirements. The farmers must ensure that the fish are bred under satisfactory conditions such that the water and environment are protected.
ASC-certified pangasius farms must therefore take regular measurements of the water, keeping within established values. Purification equipment used for waste water and sediment has to meet strict requirements before it can be discharged.
Water pollution is indeed one of the greatest negative consequences of fish farming on the environment, and pangasius breeding is no exception. The ASC Pangasius Standard has therefore established requirements for a number of matters that are central to water pollution:
- The amount of phosphate and nitrogen that ends up in the farming system via feed is kept to a minimum. Phosphate and nitrogen are essential building blocks needed by fish in order to grow, but they can also lead to water pollution.
- River water, which is often used for breeding pangasius, always contains a certain amount of phosphate and nitrogen. It is ensured that the values of phosphate and nitrogen in water leaving the fish farm does not differ significantly from the values of the water entering the operation.
- Sediment from the fish farms and other waste may not be released into the river and must instead be collected and taken away.
These requirements are without question a positive development. But for Pittman Seafoods, sustainably-sourced fish means more than just a logo. We visit our producers on site and are thus able to assess whether suppliers are meeting our specifications, norms and values. It is important to us that we can guarantee our clients that their fish is genuinely sustainable and of a high quality.