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Greek supermarket AB Vassilopoulos to work with WWF, Nireus to promote sustainable fish farming

Featured Greek supermarket AB Vassilopoulos to work with WWF, Nireus to promote sustainable fish farming

The Greek supermarket chain AB Vassilopoulos has announced the further step in its collaboration with WWF Hellas and the company Nireus Aquaculture to promote sustainable fish farming for sea bass and bream.

The three have teamed up to establish the first fish farms certified to the standards of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which are currently the strictest in the world, in Greece and the Mediterranean.

"It is a great challenge for our company to certify our aquaculture units based on the new standard," said the head of Quality R&D at Nireus, Leonidas Papacharisis, during a meeting with journalists in Aliveri, Evia on Tuesday. "In this way we will be able to provide our products with a 'passport' to markets abroad, which will accompany and certify them, and demonstrate as a society that we now engage in responsible practices that can be adopted on a global level," he added.

The head of Quality Assurance at AB Vassilopoulos, Dionysis Dionysopoulos, said the retailer's goal was to source the greater part of the fish and seafood products it sells on the Greek market from sustainable and responsible producers by 2020. "Through this process we will train Greek consumers, who in the future will demand products originating from sustainable and responsible sources," he said.

He also left open the possibility of exporting Greek aquaculture fish to the Ahold Delhaize supermarket chains in the Balkans, via AB Vassilopoulos, noting that certification in this context will be essential.

WWF Hellas Environmental Programme head Constantinos Liarikos said the programme was an initiative to bring some fish farms up to the most stringent standards in the world at this time, enabling them to implement and demonstrate their environmental sustainability.

The ASC is an independent international certification organisation whose standard seeks to minimise the impact of aquaculture units on the marine environment and allow consumers to reward sustainable practices. It has standards for nine different kinds of fish, including salmon, shrimp and trout.

The collaboration between AB Vassilopoulos and WWF Hellas to improve sustainability in the sourcing of fish products was first launched in 2013, while its second phase in collaboration with Nireus started in 2016, with improvements to the sustainability of Nireus units in Aliveri, Astakos and Nafpaktos. The latest phase was launched after the ASC announced the new standard for Mediterranean species in September, based on a code of sustainable environmental practices for sea bass and bream published by WWF.

Inspections to check whether the Nireus fish farms meet the new standards were completed in March and they are expected to soon be the first ASC-certified units in Greece and the Mediterranean.