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February 27, 2016
Jose Antonio Camposano,
Executive President of Ecuador’s
CNA, Speaks Out
Due to a lack of information and suitable education on the part of the industry, many consumers still frown on the aquaculture sector. Shrimp producers in particular need to take action, according to Jose Antonio Camposano, executive president of Ecuador’s Cámara Nacional de Acuacultura (The National Chamber of Aquaculture, primarily a shrimp farmers’ association).
Camposano is on a mission to change the image of aquaculture and shrimp farming in the consumer’s mind. “The whole image of aquaculture is wrong,” Camposano said.
Many consumers base their opinion on what is happening in Asia—where the majority of shrimp is farmed and most of the case studies on shrimp aquaculture come from. In terms of shrimp production in 2014, around 3 million metric tons were produced in Asia, from countries including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and India. In contrast, around 609,000 metric tons were produced in Latin American, Camposano said. Of this, the vast majority comes from Ecuadorean shrimp farms, which produce around 277,166 metric tons.
Consumers’ fears about the use of antibiotics are predominantly based on experience with certain countries, but it's important to state a difference between the ones with sustainable practices and the ones that still have not made that “upgrade”, said Camposano. There are different production systems and parts of the world doing things differently, he said. “There is...much information on Asia aquaculture production, but people need to take a deeper look into what is happening in Latin America.... Ecuador represents 45-50 percent of Latin American production, so it’s a story worth telling,” he said.
Nevertheless it is easy to find differences in the structure of Asian aquaculture countries and Latin American countries like Ecuador. While there are “hundreds of thousands of small-time producers” in Asia, it is different in Ecuador. There are around 3,000 shrimp farms in Ecuador, which are easier to control and organize from a private and a governmental point of view. “When you have...integrated groups—such as Santa Priscilla, Songa and Omarsa—they can lead by example, and it is one of the strengths of the industry,” said Camposano.
In terms of information, in Ecuador there is also more of a flux of information between the whole chain of production from the hatcheries, the feed companies, producers and exporters. “So, for example, when we are looking at production costs, we are able to get a broader image of the situation,” he said.
Camposano wants the global industry to work together to prove to consumers that aquaculture produces a sustainable product, and he wants to position shrimp as a safe, antibiotic-free product. The connection with a customer is achieved not only through the product, but also through the industry and company behavior, he said.
Additionally, Camposano is frustrated that so many consumers perceive wild-caught seafood to be more sustainable. “We must convince them to look into the reputation of farm-raised products, and increase awareness that aquaculture is much better than before, we have fixed errors that needed fixing.”
Source: Fish Farming International. Ecuador Says Industry Must Do More for Farmed Shrimp’s Reputation. Dominic Welling. Quarter One. Page 28. 2016.
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