Radical rethink required for global aquaculture?


Radical rethink required for global aquaculture?

12 June 2020
Commercial aquaculture is at risk "of fostering future zoonotic pandemics", according to a new report by FAIRR.

FAIRR, a network of global investors aiming to create awareness over environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, has said Covid-19 is "a warning of the role modern animal production systems can play in increasing zoonotic disease risk" and that “a monumental and coordinated shift in biosecurity training, safety and surveillance is needed, especially in emerging markets”.

In a new report, called An Industry Infected, FAIRR has created a "pandemic ranking", scoring meat, seafood and dairy companies against seven factors: deforestation and biodiversity loss; antibiotic use; waste and pollution; animal welfare; working conditions; food safety; and sustainable proteins.

FAIRR claims 73 percent of the 60 meat, fish and dairy firms it examined were classed as high-risk, while none fell into the low-risk category.

On average, aquaculture companies in the report are categorised as medium risk, while pork and poultry and egg companies are categorised as high risk. Four out of the bottom five producers in the pandemic ranking (ie those facing the highest level of overall pandemic risk) are poultry and egg companies. Conversely, four out of the top five producers in the ranking are aquaculture companies.

“Aquaculture companies scored significantly higher on average (lower risk) due to stronger performance across all risk factors considered, particularly low risk on antibiotic use, deforestation and biodiversity loss,” the report explains.

Despite this a number of large salmon producing companies - including Mowi, Bakkafrost, Lerøy Seafood and Grieg Seafood - are deemed to be medium-risk companies.