The journey to acquire sustainable certification is lengthy, especially for smallholder farmers. There are a lot of changes to be made in the ways of operating, procurement policy, and various due diligence. The resources required to achieve this aren’t small either. Thus, many smallholder farmers are struggling to keep their farms running while improving their operation at the same time. As one of the SIP Innovators, ASIC or Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative is working to support smallholder farmers by offering a unique pathway for them to receive recognition for the improvement efforts. This support will help them to continue their journey to receive sustainable certification.

ASIC’s multi-stakeholder platform includes representatives from various elements of the Asian seafood industry (producer organisations, processors, environmental NGOs, and local certification bodies), who are working together to build innovative tools designed to foster improvement for both shrimp aquaculture and fisheries in the region. In order to complement this effort, ASIC is also working to increase market awareness for sustainable seafood products through different activities – from speaking to retailers and working with chefs, to visiting sustainable seafood suppliers.

Last month, Corey and Laura from the ASIC team engaged in a panel discussion with Brandon Hill, Director of Supply Chain from Bamboo Sushi and Noemi Jenkins, Shrimp Category Manager of Pacific Seafood Group, to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the sourcing of shrimp both locally and globally. As the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant, Bamboo Sushi seeks to change the way people eat, the way restaurants do business and the way we treat our environment. As a seafood producer, Pacific Seafood is fully committed to providing the market with the highest quality, sustainable seafood. This panel discussion aimed to showcase how restaurants and suppliers can spearhead the change in the industry, and to inspire others to do the same.

Besides engaging in talks, Corey and Laura also attended sustainable seafood dinner and brunch events, that were hosted by Pacific Northwest chefs focusing on local, sustainable seafood products. The dinner aimed to foster change in seafood production through the lens of chefs and end consumers. The brunch demonstrated collaboration between local chefs, which included a discussion on the future of salmon. Both events highlighted the importance of connecting our plates with sustainable sourcing. They encouraged chefs and food providers to not only focus on the quality of the ingredients they are using, but also on the quality of life surrounding these ingredients – from the supply chain to the environments where the fish live. 

To further promote change in the supply side of the chain, Corey and Laura traveled to the Columbia River Gorge to visit the Two Rivers Fish Co., a First Nations fishery that employs traditional, sustainable fishing methods using platform hoop nets and gill nets. The field trip allowed participants to take a closer look at the history of salmon in the Columbia River and offered a glimpse into the habitat and restoration for King, Coho, Steelhead and Sockeye salmon. During the trip, they exchanged knowledge in sustainability practices in the region and how can farmers benefit from sustainability in the long run.

With these activities, ASIC aims to promote the work of and share learnings from smallholder farming in Asia, and demonstrate how regional work can have a worldwide impact.  ASIC will continue to collaborate with different stakeholders to support the farmers, and are working with buyers and retailers to provide an incentive for sustainable farming through increasing the demand for sustainable seafood products. Learn more about ASIC’s project here.