ASC-certified salmon farmers get U.N. nod for responsible aquaculture

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification gets UN backing for clarity, credibility and choice in seafood. BC Salmon farms which have the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification now have the backing of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for clarity, credibility and choice in certified seafood.

The ASC’s Salmon Standard has been recognised by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) , a seafood certification industry benchmark, it was announced this week.

The GSSI benchmark, based on the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) guidelines for the ecolabelling of seafood, requires producers to demonstrate responsible aquaculture to minimise both environmental and social impacts, and requires an unprecedented level of transparency and traceability.

In British Columbia, every salmon farm holds at least one third party certification or recommendation. Certification vary by company, but most include stringent third-party audits and public disclosure of audit findings. B.C. Atlantic salmon farmers have committed to being the first region to be 100 per cent ASC certified by 2020.

For instance, more than 73% of Cermaq Canada’s production farms are certified to Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) salmon standard.

This standard was developed with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and is an independent, third party organization which receives no money from the certification process.

Last April, Marine Harvest Canada’s Alexander Inlet farm was the company’s 17th farm site to be ASC certified.

Marine Harvest said that with 17 active certifications now, it hopes to have 24 more certified by the end of 2018, and will certify a total of about 30, depending on production schedules, by 2020 to meet its global commitment.

In addition to seeking ASC certification, The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) said that all its members have committed to the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), launched in August 2013.

“ The BC aquaculture sector is a world leader in responsible seafood farming. This is achieved through accreditation by independent, national and international third party audited certification and labeling programs,” states the BC government on its website.

“Seafood certifications build consumer confidence by identifying sustainably caught or produced products in the marketplace. B.C. fishers and aquaculture producers participate in stewardship certification programs to adopt a structured standard of sustainability within their business and gain greater market access and competitiveness.”

The ASC Salmon Standard certification programme has grown steadily since its launch in 2012, with 240 salmon farms now certified.

“With the ASC’s commitment to constant updates and stakeholder engagement, our standard has been a driving force behind improvements in salmon aquaculture. Achieving the GSSI benchmark is further evidence of the strength and the credibility of the standard,” said Michiel Fransen, Head of Standards & Science at the ASC. (pictured)

“The ASC’s market-driven approach to improving standards in aquaculture means we are acutely aware how important it is that the industry and consumers understand and have confidence in the certification schemes behind the logos on their seafood.

“The ASC’s standards have always included the social as well as environmental impacts of aquaculture for a more thorough measure of responsibility, so we look forward to the development of Benchmarking Criteria for social compliance schemes through collaboration.”

“This recognition shows that the aquaculture Stewardship Council Certification and their Salmon Standard is in line with the FAO’s guidelines for aquaculture certification. The ASC recognition bolsters the GSSI Global Benchmark Tool in providing the seafood industry with clarity, credibility and choice in certified seafood, and we look forward to extending the scope of recognition and including other ASC Standards in the future,” said Herman Wisse, Managing Director, GSSI.

The ASC programme was judged against performance indicators for governance, operational management, supply chain traceability and auditing.

The ASC standard is also the only global aquaculture standard to achieve the yellow ‘Good Alternative’ rating by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch programme.


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