The Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) celebrates this month its fifth anniversary after years of progress and initiatives to transform the global shrimp aquaculture industry into one more socially and environmentally responsible. This association arises from the vision of a group of major shrimp producers in Ecuador, who noticed neglectful practices within the global sector and committed to improving it and demonstrating that it is possible to produce shrimp of the highest quality while using best practices. Their efforts have led SSP to be considered one of the most relevant precompetitive seafood platforms, according to the Landscape Review of Sustainable Seafood Precompetitive Collaborations research, created by CEA Consulting on behalf of the Sustainable Seafood Funders Group.
“When we established SSP five years ago, we wanted to drive change globally,” explained SSP Director Pamela Nath. “We consider SSP as an innovation lab where we tackle specific challenges, learn how to address them and share our experience. We set the bar high for ourselves to demonstrate by example and to lead these changes. We call this a race to the top”.
During this ‘race to the top’ in which SSP is the number one competitor, this entity has reached landmarks in its journey. An example of these triumphs is the creation of one of the most demanding protocols for shrimp production: the SSP qualification. This standard was developed under the guidance of SSP’s Advisory Board, formed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC); and hand in hand with the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC). The SSP qualification establishes that all farms must meet ASC certification, and are subjected to constant verifications during each production cycle to
guarantee the zero use of antibiotics, the neutral impact on water, and the complete traceability of the product.
“After seeing that unsafe products were being offered to the consumer in the marketplace, with an indiscriminate use of antibiotics, as well as poor social and environmental practices, the founding members of SSP identified the lack of transparent information about the production processes and decided to show that SSP works following criteria with the highest levels of accountability,” said Nath.
A pioneering project in the aquaculture industry developed by SSP based on its traceability criteria was to use Blockchain technology for its products. SSP joined the IBM Food Trust ecosystem, a platform that uses blockchain, and developed a traceability application designed especially for consumers, to allow them to access information about the food and its journey to their plate simply by scanning a QR code. This practice ensures that customers receive transparent data on the origin and quality of SSP’s premium shrimp. For this reason, international markets have decided to include it in their offer, as is the case of the Chilean retail giant Jumbo, where SSP’s premium shrimp is available under the Cuisine&Co brand.
SSP’s route also includes the collaboration and implementation of plans with leading international organizations in their working areas. “We are operating alongside other industry players on a carbon footprint measurement project led by IDH. We want to identify the hot spots in shrimp production and work on solutions to reduce their impact” assures the SSP process manager María Fernanda Vilches.
These activities are formulated within the SSP Sustainability Leadership Roundtable, a platform in which different organisations strive to encourage the sustainable development of the global farmed shrimp industry, anticipating future challenges and working proactively to overcome them. In order to reach a larger-scale change inside the aquaculture industry and achieve the highest levels of environmental and social performance, it is also necessary to include small and medium-sized producers in the process and support them to be more competitive internationally. This is another front of action in which the SSP stands out since, together with its Advisory Board, it has developed the Scale Up program to implement improvement projects.
SSP considers that a key actor that cannot be excluded from the process if the global industry is to be transformed, is the consumer. SSP believes that it is essential to work on their awareness so that they demand healthier products and question themselves about the production practices behind what they buy.
For this reason, the initiative carries out consumers/customers experiences so that they get to know the story behind the shrimp such as the Shrimp Summit in Ecuador, activities with the culinary community, development of guides for Chefs and Dietitians. Next edition of the Shrimp Summit, an event organized together with ASC, will take place in June 12th to 14th.
Undoubtedly, these five years of efforts toward sustainability appear to be paying off since, in society, there is an increasing need for responsible and transparent industries in their practices. Consequently, Nath holds that SSP and its members will maintain their commitment and continue making history while they pursue their objectives.
Founding Members of the SSP include Grupo Almar, Lanec, Omarsa, Promarisco – Grupo Nueva Pescanova, Songa – Sociedad Nacional de Galápagos. SSP Associate Members are BioMar, DSM, INVE Aquaculture, Skretting, Vitapro.
Watch the SSP VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?