Mauritius Aquaculture Threats or Opportunities

This week again, Newsweek in its issue, highlights the danger of consuming food imported from China. Newsweek is right in alerting the US population on the subject because of the increase dependence of the US on supply from China.

China became the leading exporter of seafood to the U.S. in 2004 – and amounts are rising fast. Chinese imports were up 14 percent in 2005 and 23 percent in 2006. This year, so far, they are up 34 percent over 2006.

“China’s imports of aquaculture products are increasing despite the country’s history of violations for veterinary drug residues,” says Food & Water Watch. “Between 2003 and 2006, 35 percent of all refusals for veterinary drug residues were found on shipments from China. In 2006, 62.4 percent of all refusals for veterinary drug residues came from there.”

The sanitary conditions in China, is being addressed by the authorities of China who have reproduced a report by Zhou Qing on the theme and distributed to the producers. It may take some time for china, to address the ecological issue. The rivers are polluted; there is no control on the fertilizers and pesticides used which find their way in the waters. How long will China take to produce acceptable quality?

The threat of Aquaculture in Mauritius is to be able to produce a proper product at a competitive price. The opportunities are by far larger provided we produce a clean product, a bio one, and target a niche market where the sanitary quality is the premium and price is second. Branding Mauritius as an ecological producer and living the label will be our biggest assets.Government authorities have to be very vigilant in making sure that the farms are within the norms of sanitation. The development of the sector will be long live if the very stringent environmental rules are followed. Let us take the benefits of learning from the mistakes other farms in the world to build our own. Much have to be learned.

The Food & Water website is worthwhile visiting.

Extract on the theme:
Salmon farming
Dichlorvos is licensed as a veterinary medicine by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate for use against sea lice (Lepeophteirus salmonis and Caligus elongatus) that afflict salmon. The UK salmon farming industry is mainly based in the western coast and Islands of Scotland there are about 130 salmon farming companies on 280 sites. Production has increased from 600 tonnes in 1980 to 48,000 tonnes in 1993(10). There have been concerns about the discharge of dichlorvos as a result, and the possible effects of dichlorvos on wild salmon. There was an increase in the incidence of cataracts and blindness in wild salmon in the 1980s and this has been linked with exposure to dichlorvos(11).
Alternatives to dichlorvos are now being introduced including the use of sea wrasse as ‘cleaner fish’, and the use of hydrogen peroxide as an alternative disinfectant.

Developing country use
Because of its high acute oral and dermal toxicity, its availability in developing countries is a cause for concern. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Bank, GTZ (Germany) and ODA (UK) generally discourage the procurement of such products. The accepted international guide to best practice in the procurement of pesticides is set out in the FAO’s Provisional Guidelines on Tender Procedures for the Procurement of Pesticides(12) which state:
“Pesticide formulations that fall into Class IA or IB … usually have severe restrictions in developed countries; in general they can only be used by specially trained and certified applicators. Such pesticides should not be used by small farmers or untrained and unprotected workers in developing countries”.
Nevertheless research by the Pesticides Trust [now PAN UK] shows that dichlorvos is widely used in a number of countries where the conditions of use have raised concerns. Dichlorvos has caused poisonings in China, Costa Rica, Paraguay, India, Papua New Guinea and Egypt. It is also widely produced – there are facilities in India, Brazil and Mexico(13). For these reasons PAN groups have strongly urged that dichlorvos be included in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) process from the outset(14). One manufacturer, Ciba Geigy, has agreed to withdraw dichlorvos from sale in the Colombian flower industry (see p14).

It is accepted that dichlorvos is dangerous to a number of aquatic species and that the discharge of dichlorvos to water should be reduced. Dichlorvos can inhibit cholinesterase levels in humans which may lead to short or longer term neurotoxic effects. Although it has been used for some 40 years, considerable uncertainties remain about whether or not it is implicated in cancer, and the wider environmental consequences of its use. In general and specifically in developing countries and in UK fish farming less hazardous alternatives are available