Fish feed. (Photo Credit: Solveig O. Landsvik CC BY-SA 3.0)
Experts’ meeting to boost ASC feed standard
Tuesday, September 09, 2014, 03:50 (GMT + 9)
Fish feed sector experts gathered for the first time last week in Amsterdam with the aim of ensuring a responsible future for the production of this industry.
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Responsible Feed Project working group event was attended by experts in marine, plant, animal and micro ingredients, as well as supply chain and feed mill experience.
“The production of the key ingredients used in making aquaculture feed create environmental and social pressures that must be addressed,” pointed out Secretary for the Responsible Feed Project Michiel Fransen speaking at one of the sessions.
“Feed is the most costly input in fish farming, which in itself has driven innovation in feed composition and increased efficiency of use. However, reducing the impact of feed goes further than optimising its composition and use; sourcing of responsibly produced ingredients is a big step forward in moving our industry towards sustainability,” he added.
The secretary also explained that all the major ingredients used today have an environmental impact, even those that are substituted for fish meal and oil and that for many of these ingredients ’sustainable’ practices are yet to be defined.
Besides, Fransen stressed the importance of developing a step-wise approach to reach that goal over time and that tackling this is one of the challenges for the Technical Working Groups.
Meanwhile, ASC’s CEO Chris Ninnes gave a presentation on the ASC programme, describing how through assessment against the ASC standards the programme aims to reduce the environmental and social impact of aquaculture worldwide.
“As with the requirements in the species standards, those in the feed standard will also require that best practice is enshrined,” Ninnes stressed.
The CEO stated that ASC defines best practice as a level that can only be achieved by 15-20 per cent of industry when the standard is released. And he said that wider adoption will require industry improvements and an aquaculture industry committed to the Feed Standard will incentivise and drive the innovation needed to be made by the producers of the main ingredients used in the production of aqua feeds.
Moreover, Ninnes ensured that through independent certification it is possible to share the best practice and make sure that it is applied properly.
Further, Fransen informed that over the next year the steering committee and working group members will provide expert knowledge to help develop the requirements that will make up the ASC Feed Standard. And that this will be followed by two public review rounds involving the broader stakeholder community, who can provide input into the draft standard.
The secretary also said that as well as a feed standard, the project will deliver the related audit manual, which will be used to guide auditors in applying the standard, and a field test for the standard and audit manual.
He explained that: “in developing the standard and the audit manual a range of environmental and social issues will need to be analysed and the results will ensure their content is scientifically robust, reflects best practice and can be applied consistently.”
Ninnes concluded that this collaborative approach is the best way in which to develop the consensus needed to improve the environmental performance of key feed ingredients used in fish farming.