S. Korea Cuts the Ribbon on Initiating Sustainable Aquaculture in North East Asia

In response to the Korean market’s growing demand, two aquaculture farms on Jeju Island in South Korea spearheaded the move toward safe and sustainable fish production by achieving GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Certification in May 2014.

The two farms obtained certification for olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus), a very popular species in Korean and Japanese restaurants. Olive flounder has both its eyes on one side and lies flat under the sand to protect itself against sunlight. It’s called olive flounder because the color of its sideways body is similar to the olive-colored sand it hides under. A common ingredient in sushi and sashimi, olive flounder is used throughout Europe and North America.

As more and more Korean consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to chemical residues in foods, certification of olive flounder is both a very welcome development for consumers and a historic development for the industry in North East Asia as a whole.

“ We cannot survive without changing to sustainable production systems, which the market requires even more than in the past,” said certified producer Mr. Kang Dong Eun. “ Currently the aquaculture business is not bad in Korea. But consumer complaints about food safety and environment conservation have been growing. We have to establish sustainable production systems as soon as possible.”

Though farmers’ participation is voluntary, a growing number of farmers feels the need to establish more sustainable systems in their production sites, in response to consumer demands for better aquaculture production practices to be implemented. Many olive flounder producers are licensed to run aquaculture farms. They are cooperative and competitive at the same time, with more strategic producers looking for ways to differentiate their products and thus gain better access to local and global markets. For many GLOBALG.A.P. Certification provides the perfect solution to fulfill customer and market demands.

‘I have’, the brand marketing agency of Jeju National University, organized the GLOBALG.A.P. project about two years ago. The organization began to study the standards in great detail to help producers improve their systems and finally achieve certification. Additional support came from the Isidor Sustainability Research Institute, a consultancy that helped the olive flounder producers build and improve their systems based on the requirements of GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Certification.

This case has impressed the rural governor of Jeju province. As a result, the Governor of Jeju reviewed and accepted GLOBALG.A.P. projects to broaden safe and sustainable aquaculture all over the island. This development in Korea is also expected to have a positive impact on other countries in North East Asia and the rest of the world, with more and more species entering the sustainability market through GLOBALG.A.P.

For more information on GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Certification, go to www.globalgap.org/aquaculture.

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