Three years ago, a group of major shrimp producers in Ecuador decided to transform the future of the shrimp aquaculture industry and launched the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP). With a commitment to farming shrimp to the highest standards, fully traceable, with zero antibiotics and in a sustainable manner, SSP members have demonstrated that it is possible to produce the highest quality and safest shrimp while committing to the highest levels of accountability.
In an industry that produces over five million tons of shrimp each year, where examples of food fraud and lack of transparency are prevalent, SSP members saw that it was necessary to lead the shrimp industry worldwide andwent in a new direction, embracing a race to the top, promoting changes among producers and offering consumers reliable products.
“One of the main goals SSP set three years ago was to elevate the performance of the whole industry, so seeing other companies in various regions adopting these challenges is proof that the industry is willing to improve. They just need someone who takes the lead and SSP will continue to do so,” said José Antonio Camposano, executive president of the National Aquaculture Chamber from Ecuador.
After developing one of the most demanding protocols for shrimp production with the guidance of SSP Advisory Board, formed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and by the hand of the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification – ICONTEC -, SSP members are committed to constant verification during each production cycle to ensure zero use of antibiotics, full traceability, and no negative impact on the local environment, demonstrating the compliance of best production practices.
“It is difficult to move a village, much less the global shrimp sector,” said Aaron McNevin, Global Network lead for Aquaculture, World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “By seeking a radical level of transparency in performance and impact, the SSP has challenged the sector in a race to the top.”
But how to share this key information with customers and consumers in a way that acquires tangible value for them became one of the most exciting challenges, ultimately was about giving them the power to make informed choices. For SSP, increasing the capacity for consumers to buy healthy and responsibly farmed shrimp came in the name of blockchain technology, the most secure and latest technology available for food traceability. SSP joined the IBM Food Trust ecosystem, a platform that uses blockchain, and developed a traceability application designed especially for consumers, to enable them to access information on the product and its journey to their plate by simply scanning a QR code, ensuring transparent data about the provenance and quality for every piece of SSP’s premium shrimp. A milestone achievement for SSP and the shrimp industry for being the first shrimp product on IBM Ecosystem, and for encouraging other seafood industries to join this level of transparency.
As inclusion been one of SSP pillars and a key element to generate a wider impact on the shrimp aquaculture industry, SSP alongside its Advisory Board implemented a farm improvement program, which aimed to help small and mid-sized farms in Ecuador work towards the highest levels of environmental and social standards, achieving ASC-certification and ultimately comply with SSP additional criteria.
There are 12 farms operating under SSP criterions and producing SSP approved shrimp: Agromarina, Lebama and Salmos farms (Songa – Sociedad Nacional de Galápagos), Produmar farm (Grupo Almar), Cachugran farm (Omarsa), Campamento Naturisa and Rio Nilo farms (Naturisa), Greentrail Corp, Lanec and Bellitec farms (Grupo Lanec), Marfrisco and Quiñonez farms (Promarisco, Grupo Nueva Pescanova). SSP has also associate members including Biomar, Skretting and Evonik.