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Tiger prawns are first Fairtrade seafood

Tiger and king prawns are to become the first Fairtrade seafoods, in a move aimed at bringing social and environmental improvements to fish farms.

The Fairtrade Foundation is working to create certification standards for small-scale prawn farms in Asia by the end of November, marking the first time it has ventured into the fishing industry.

Fish farmers granted certification will be expected to reduce the environmental impact of their production methods. Likely measures required to win certification include restrictions on taking breeding stock from the wild, and limits on the quantity of fishmeal fed to farmed prawns.

One problem Fairtrade certifications are intended to curb is the destruction by prawn farmers of mangroves that are a crucial habitat for many fish and shrimp. The mangroves are also considered to be vital flood defences.

In return, the prawn farmers will be given support to help them make a living, partly by organising them so that they get fair prices from buyers.