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Joined: Oct 1999
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The Government has been boasting of a rebound in the shrimp industry in the wake of problems in production a few months ago. However, industry insiders report that the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, A.S.C., has suspended certification for four Belizean shrimp farms as of a month ago, on April fourth. The farms have been identified as Paradise Shrimp Farm, Tex Mar Farm, Bel-Euro Aquaculture and Tropical Aquaculture Investment Farm. IntraFish website says the companies' certification was suspended after they were unable to undergo their planned surveillance audits due to the fallout from an outbreak of Early Mortality Syndrome in 2015. As of a few months ago these and four other companies were certified by A.S.C. to do business, but they will now have to restart their certification process.

Channel 5

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Shrimp Industry Unperturbed By Industry Newsletter Headline

Belize's shrimp industry is rebounding from its worst year ever when farms were wiped out by a bacterial infection. And today, it looked like another blow when we saw an article in a shrimp industry newsletter called "Intrafish Aquaculture". The article says that the Aquaculture Stewardship Council has suspended several Belizean shrimp farms certifications in wake of an early mortality symptoms outbreak. The Belize Shrimp Growers Association fired back with a release saying that four of its farms simply opted out of the ASC audit. Today, speaking via telephone from the south, President of the Association Alvin Henderson told us why the article doesn't affect Belize's shrimp farmers.

Jules Vasquez
"How would the tone and the screaming headline here, will it affect the industry when it says "ASC suspends several Belize shrimp farms' certifications in wake of EMS outbreak." Will that affect Belize's product?"

Alvin Henderson, President - BZ Shrimp Growers Association
"Not at all. Our clients, we know who they are, they know who we are. Our buyers know our status. They who is certified and who is not. That's not a big deal."

"These labels that distinguish us, it's really a product differentiation strategy. This for me is a very prestigious label that distinguish us on the marketplace for social responsibility and environmental sustainability."

"What that label allow us to do is to have a differentiate position on the marketplace, so that we can command a better price. These industry certainly for the short medium term does not have a price risk and that's a very bold statement I am making and the reason why I say that is because of the type of market that we sell into, we sell into very sophisticated markets."

"Now, as you know from the information that we put out, 4 of the farms went for the re-audit and they did extremely well actually. We had one farm that actually had no non-compliance whatsoever. So they did extremely well and the other had minor non-compliance. There is no big deal at all. Some of the other farms opted not to be audited at this particular time, but it's an option that they can exercise later on down the year."

"The significant issue for those who choose not to be audited now, is that perhaps the markets that the most specialize markets that we have a keen interest in could not be as readily available to them. It does not mean that they cannot export."

Henderson also discussed projections for this year's out-turn after a down year in 2016.

Alvin Henderson, President - BZ Shrimp Growers Association
"Our focus right now on the industry side is to make sure that people do the right thing and they do the right infrastructure on the ground. I think that is going to be key. And again, I know everybody gets excited and we all are also very concern about seeing a more rapid recovery. That is clearly our ambition as well. But it's important that we do things the right way, that we adapt the technology the appropriate way on the ground to ensure that our gains can be sustain year upon year and surpassed."

Jules Vasquez, 7News
"What is the projection for 2017 in terms of what sort of growth?"

Alvin Henderson, President - BZ Shrimp Growers Association
"We are forecasted on the industry side near to maybe 40 million dollars in hard currency. That is mature recovery if you consider that last year was maybe certainly less than 12 million. Maybe about 10 million. Now the goal is to ensure that we can go 40 to 60-70. That's what we need to be focused on."

Shrimp productions and exportation picks up after June.

Channel 7

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Shrimpers Working to Get Back Certification

The prestigious Aquaculture Stewardship Council suspended certification of four Belizean shrimp farms in April. But the local Shrimp Farm Association claims that the farms – Paradise Shrimp Farm, Tex Mar Farm, Bel-Euro Aquaculture and Tropical Aquaculture Investment Farm, actually chose to opt out of the audit for the time being and that it does not impact their ability to export shrimp. Agriculture Minister Godwin Hulse concurred, but indicated that the farms do want proper recognition and will re-submit to the audit in the near future.

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

"I think it is four that are still certified and the others, it's a voluntary thing; to my mind it's not affecting any export or any production of shrimp. It's a badge of honor in a kind of sense - it's a kind of social institution that does so; it says, 'You've been doing everything right, you've been handling your employees right, etcetera, etcetera;' and I am confident that they will get back at some stage into being recognized again by the accrediting body. But to my knowledge and what we have been told and what my C.E.O. has been told, it has not affected, in any way, the progress we are making toward the industry rebounding and getting back heavily into the export market."

A release by the Belize Shrimp Farm Association following the announcement in international media recognizes that the A.S.C. label is highly coveted worldwide. It is important for Belize because it helps to drive the industry's unhindered access to value added markets across the world.

Channel 5

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