A sustainable turnaround for the Asian seafood market

The diverse, fertile waters of the Asia-Pacific is rife with opportunities for a rich seafood industry. However, there is still a long way to go for producers to ensure that their produce meets sustainable standards and transparency objectives.

By Agatha Wong

Home to the largest, deepest ocean on Earth, the Asia-Pacific, with its kaleidoscope of climates and fertile waters, is home to rich marine life and habitats. With over 3000 species of fish under its belt, the region is also the largest producer of farmed seafood, contributing to approximately 80% of the global supply. Moreover, with booming markets in China and India — some of the largest players in the region — aquaculture is one of the fasted growing sectors in the Asia-Pacific.

However, according to a study conducted by Asia Research and Engagement (ARE), Asia’s burgeoning seafood industry is hindered by the lack of transparency, disclosure, and ethical practices within its own market. Of the 158 companies in Asia reviewed for the study, only 13% acknowledged antimicrobial use or resistance risks, while 11% recognised animal welfare practices. Besides that, the study also found that no companies addressed deforestation in animal protein sourcing (for animal feed and farming), and only 18% acknowledged sustainable seafood sourcing, both wild-caught and farmed.

Within the region, China and Indonesia, who are the region’s biggest markets for seafood production, do not disclose any of their protein sourcing policies. While other countries such as Hong Kong and Japan generated a more positive response, it is still far from ideal, with the former scoring at only 36% average across the market.

“There is still high use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, poor animal welfare, deforestation especially involving coastal mangroves, and also depletion of natural resources via harvested wild-caught fish into fish oil and fishmeal. Salination and use of pesticides are also areas of concern,” remarked Dr Kate Blaszak, director of sustainable proteins at ARE.

The full article is available in the latest edition of Food & Beverage Asia August/September 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.