The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) will be present on 23 - 25 April at the most important seafood exhibition of the world, the European Seafood Exposition (ESE) in Brussels.
The highly anticipated ASC Update meeting will take place on Wednesday 24 April, including talks from ASC’s CEO Chris Ninnes, China Aquatic Products Processing & Marketing Association (CAPPMA) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).
The session is expected to draw a large crowd, which should ensure a lively and interesting discussion in the closing Q&A part of the meeting.
“ASC has been exhibiting at the ESE for a number of years and the tremendous progress the organisation has made is now clear to see. This year’s expo will be a chance to celebrate the many great achievements that ASC has accomplished over the last year. ASC certified tilapia and pangasius have been enthusiastically welcomed by the market. To date 24 tilapia farms and 20 pangasius farms have successfully gained certification for meeting the robust ASC standard for responsible aquaculture, with another 10 in process towards certification,” said Chris Ninnes, who heads the organisation.
The farms are spread over Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Honduras, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Over 340 products with the ASC consumer facing logo for responsibly farmed fish have been approved. They are available in 19 countries, mainly in Europe but also in Canada and in the US. The latest countries to launch ASC products are the UK, where leading retailers Aldi and Sainsbury’s now offer ASC certified tilapia, and the US where a tilapia product will be available shortly.
ASC will shortly start an important initiative to consolidate the feed requirements across all of the existing ASC standards into a single Feed Standard.
“Feed represents a significant part of the environmental impact of fish farming, reflected in the use of fish meal and fish oil mainly sourced from wild catch and from other ingredients grown on the land. The Standard will set out the requirements for the aquaculture feed industry to operate on a more environmentally sound and socially responsible basis” said Ninnes.
“ASC’s approach will look to also invite other certification platforms to participate in the development of these requirements, and ultimately use them so that we can collectively promote responsible feed use. This initiative will be managed by the ASC, will follow ISEAL protocols, and will encourage broad stakeholder participation. We expect to have this work concluded by the end of 2015.”
After tilapia and pangasius, the next set of standards for responsible aquaculture are ready to go live.
“There has been terrific interest in the salmon programme, not only from the larger producing countries such as Norway and Chile, but also farms from the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand are eager to participate. We anticipate the first salmon farm audits in a few months. The Audit Manual is with our governance for formal sign off and the auditors have been trained.” said Ninnes.
The development of the shrimp standard has also reached its final stages. Following pilots carried out by the Shrimp Aquaculture Dialogue, the draft audit manual is being finalised under the guidance of the ASC.
According to Ninnes: “Launching the global standards for responsible aquaculture for salmon and shrimp will be a great market test for the ASC. It will help us realise our mission to transform aquaculture towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility using market mechanisms which create value across the chain.”
Other fish species will also be introduced to the market in the near future. Trout pilot audits are in progress in Denmark and Turkey. The final certification documents for bivalves are also in their final approval stage with the ASC governance.
Certifiers will start auditing later this year, after they have trained the auditors on the Bivalves Standard as part of their accreditation process. Training dates for the different standards/species will be announced shortly. There is also good progress with seriola/cobia. The standard closed its first round of public consultation on 12 April. Feedback received will now be processed into a next version, which will go out for a second round of public consultation later this year.
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council is as an independent, not-for-profit organisation co-funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative in 2010 to manage the certification of responsible fish farming across the globe.
Farm standards were developed through a series of eight multi-stakeholder round-table process. Currently, six standards have been concluded or will be concluded shortly (two) for the 12 most traded species globally.
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