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Organic Certification Standards for Aquatic Animals


Peter Hagen <[log in to unmask]>


Fish-Sci-request <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 13 Mar 2000 16:47:00 -0900





text/plain (1 lines)

The following notice from the United States, Department of Agriculture
may be of interest to some list members.


>From Gary Jensen, USDA-CSREES

For those with an interest in organic standards for aquatic animals both
from aquaculture operations and wild-harvested activities please review the
following notice from USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service. Note the schedule
for public meetings and registration process for persons wishing to provide
oral testimony. There is also a request for written comments from persons
unable to attend any of the public meetings. This is an opportunity to
develop an organic certification program for farm-raised aquatic species.
Please share this notice with others who may have an interest.


Notice of Meeting

Summary: The Agricultural Marketing Service announces three forthcoming
public meetings to solicit testimony on organic certification standards for
operations that produce aquatic animals.

Dates: April 10, 2000 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; April 12, 2000, from 9:00
a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; May 3, 2000, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Places: The meetings will be held at the following locations:
April 10, 2000: Mobile Convention Center, 1 South Water St., Room 201,
Mobile, Alabama, 36602, telephone number (334) 208-2000.
April 12, 2000: Anchorage Hilton, 500 West Third Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska,
99501, telephone number (907) 272-7411.
May 3, 2000: Providence Biltmore, 11 Dorrance St., Providence, Rhode Island,
02903, telephone number (410) 421-0700.

For Further Information Contact: Keith Jones, Program Manager, Room 2945
South Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, AMS, Transportation and
Marketing, National Organic Program, P.O. Box 96456, Washington, D.C.
20090-6456 Phone (202)720-3252.

Supplementary Information: Section 2110 (7 U.S.C. 6509) of the Organic Foods
Production Act (OFPA) as amended (7 U.S.C. Section 6501 et seq.) requires
that livestock that is to be slaughtered and sold or labeled as organically
produced shall be raised in accordance with the title. Section 2103 ( 7
U.S.C. 6502) of the OFPA defines livestock as any cattle, sheep, goats,
swine, poultry, equine animals used for food or in the production of food,
fish used for food, wild or domesticated game, or other nonplant life.
Therefore, any fish used for food that is to be sold or labeled as organic
must be raised in accordance with the requirements of the OFPA. AMS
understands the term "fish" to encompass all aquatic animals used for food
including shell fish and fin fish. AMS also understands the term "fish" to
encompass all aquatic animals, whether propagated and raised in a controlled
or selected environment ("aquaculture") or from federally regulated but free
roaming marine and fresh water populations ("wild harvested"). AMS is
conducting three public meetings to solicit testimony regarding organic
production and handling standards for operations producing aquatic animals.

Who Can Comment

        Any member of the public may comment at a meeting; however, we
request that those persons who wish to comment register with USDA as soon as
possible prior to the meeting date. A person may register by calling the
NOP at (202) 720-3252, at which time each person will be requested to submit
their name, the topic of the comment, and the meeting location where the
comment will be submitted. Registration will help insure that a person will
be able to present his or her comment during the meeting. Persons wishing
to comment may also register by sending an e-mail message to the NOP
Webmaster at . Any person wishing to comment,
but who is unable to register prior to the meetings, will be able to sign up
at each location on the day of the meeting. These presenters may submit
comments on a first-come, first- served basis following the completion of
comments from pre-registered individuals. Oral comments from all
individuals will be limited to 5 minutes to enable the greatest number of
presenters an opportunity to speak. All public comment will be recorded and
included in the public record. We request that a printed copy of each
comment be provided to the USDA at the time the comment is submitted orally
to ensure an accurate transcription.

Written Comments

        Written comments may be mailed to Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, Room 4007-S, Ag Stop
0275, P.O. Box 96456, Washington, D.C. 20090-6456, or faxed to
(202)205-7808, or submitted via the Internet through the NOP's homepage at All comments must be submitted no later than
May 3, 2000.

Purpose and Background of the National Organic Program: As set forth in
Section 2102 (7 U.S.C. 6501), the OFPA is intended to (1) establish national
standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as
organically produced products: (2) assure consumers that organically
produced products meet a consistent standard; and (3) facilitate commerce in
fresh and processed food that is organically produced. The National Organic
Program (NOP) is the entity within AMS responsible for implementing the
objectives of the OFPA. Pursuant to section 2119 of the OFPA (7 U.S.C.
6518), the Secretary has established the National Organic Standards Board
(NOSB) to provide assistance in the development of organic standards. The
members of the NOSB represent distinct disciplines from within the organic
community and are authorized to propose recommendations to the Secretary on
the creation and revision of production and handling standards for
organically managed operations.

        The NOSB received public testimony and engaged in discussion of
certification standards for aquaculture and wild-harvested aquatic animal
operations at meetings in July, 1998, October, 1998, February, 1999, July,
1999, and October, 1999. NOP intends to review the testimony and discussion
from these meetings, consider any subsequent recommendations proposed by the
NOSB, evaluate the information derived form the forthcoming national
meetings, and draft and publish for comment in the Federal Register proposed
organic standards for operations that produce aquatic animals.

        Multiple Federal entities share regulatory authority for the
production and marketing of aquatic animals. The National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) of the Department of Commerce provides services and products to
support domestic and international fisheries management operations,
fisheries development, trade and industry assistance activities,
enforcement, protected species and habitat conservation operations, and the
scientific and technical aspects of NOAA's marine fisheries program. The
Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior fulfills
multiple functions including managing interjurisdictional fisheries,
restoration of aquatic ecosystems, and recovery of listed and candidate
aquatic species. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of
the USDA has a role in both plant and animal aquaculture, especially
involving disease, pest prevention, and wildlife damage management. The
Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services
operates an oversight compliance program for the safety, wholesomeness,
identity, and of marketed seafood products. AMS does not seek to exercise
regulatory authority beyond its responsibility for marketing products as
organically produced and handled. In developing organic production and
handling standards for operations producing aquatic animals, AMS will
consult with all federal entities that share regulatory responsibility for
such operations.

        In conjunction with the forthcoming public meetings for
consideration of organic production and handling standards for operations
that produce aquatic animals, AMS would like to receive comment on the
following questions:


1. Are the fundamental components of an organic certification system,
including verifiable management practices, lists of restricted and
prohibited substances, and certification by an accredited third party,
applicable to operations that produce aquatic animals?
2. How can the statutorily required components of a livestock
operation's organic system plan, including health care practices, feed
requirements, and identification and record keeping systems, be monitored
and verified for individual animals in aquatic production environments?
3. How would the introduction of organic production and handling
standards for aquatic animals operations affect consumer perception and
acceptance of the organic certification process for other types of
4. Are there post-harvest processing and audit trail requirements that
would be unique to operations that handle aquatic animals?
5. What types of certification programs other than organic could
provide consumers with useful information on the harvest and processing of
aquatic animals?
6. How would USDA organic standards for the production and handling of
aquatic animals fit within the international regulatory framework
established by the Codex Alimentarius guidelines?


1. How can the OFPA's statutory requirement that a producer maintain
adequate records to document the origin, feed supply, and health care of all
livestock in their operation be fulfilled in an operation involving animals
born and reared in the wild?
2. What are the criteria for determining the suitability of a wild
harvested site for the production of organic aquatic animals? How can
prevailing environmental factors such as water quality, the presence of
prohibited substances, and ancillary human activity be incorporated into the
site inspection? How can the potential impact of the operation on the
target species, non-target species, and the environment be addressed in the
certification process?
3. How can the population dynamics of the targeted species, including
age distribution, reproductive capacity, and sustainable catch limits, be
cumulatively addressed by the organic system plans of multiple operations?
4. How can producers anticipate and certifying agents verify site
conditions over time and across the production site in which wild harvested
operations function?
5. How can the management practices of a fish hatchery that contributes
to a wild harvested population of aquatic animals be incorporated into the
organic system plan?


1. What are the criteria for evaluating the suitability of a production
site for an organic aquaculture operation? Specifically, can standards be
developed for the site of production to address nutrient concentration, the
emergence and transfer of disease, the escape of captive species to the
wild, and detrimental impacts on indigenous species?
2. What characteristics of fish meal -- such as the source of the fish
it is derived from or the synthetic materials it may contain - are pertinent
to the requirement in the OFPA that producers supply livestock with
"organically produced feed that meets the requirements of this title."?
3. How are the OFPA's various provisions pertinent to allowed and
prohibited livestock medications applicable to the needs of aquaculture
4. What guidelines are needed to insure that predator control practices
for aquaculture operations are consistent with organic principles?
5. Should the induction of triploidy in fish species be classified as
an excluded method under the policy on biotechnology contained in the
Proposed Rule for the NOP?
6. What considerations should be addressed in the origin of livestock
requirement for aquaculture operations that obtain stock fry or larvae from
wild populations?

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