Regal Springs' farm. (Photo Credit: Regal Springs)
More than 100 aquaculture farms ASC certified
Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has welcomed more than one hundred certified farms into its certification programme in just over two years and has stressed that last year the number of farms in the programme doubled.
In August 2012 Regal Springs' Toba and Kedung Ombo tilapia farms were the first globally to gain ASC certification. At the time, ASC only had operational standards for tilapia and pangasius. In 2013 the bivalve, abalone, salmon and trout standards were launched, followed by shrimp in 2014.
By the end of 2013, there were 57 ASC certified farms. And, over the last year, the programme saw a 103 per cent growth - bringing the total number of farms in programme to 116.
With a growing selection of ASC certified seafood available, consumers across 40 countries can now choose from almost 1,500 products. In the last year alone there was a 148 per cent increase in ASC approved products, from 602 at the end of November 2013.
The growing engagement of farms has been matched by significant commitments from influential seafood buyers, with world events such as the Rio 2016 Olympic Games pledging to source seafood from ASC certified farms. The commitment of retailers and seafood brands has also been particularly strong. All Dutch retailers have aligned themselves to only sourcing ASC certified seafood, while an additional 15 retailers and seafood brands in Europe and six globally are committed to supplying ASC certified products.
Since the ASC programme opened for assessments we have witnessed the Vietnamese pangasius industry work with a range of organisations and leading European importers to reduce their impact on the environment and local communities to become ASC certified. In two years, around 20 per cent of the industry earned ASC certification.
Just over a year ago, over 70 per cent of the salmon aquaculture industry pledged to significantly improve their key environmental and social impacts. Collectively known as the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), they committed to achieving ASC certification by 2020. There are now 18 ASC certified GSI-member farms.
And, this year, the Belize Shrimp Growers Association has been preparing member farms, representing 67 per cent of Belizean shrimp farms and 90 per cent of total farmed shrimp production in Belize, to enter assessment against the ASC Shrimp Standard. The first farm audits took place recently and draft reports are expected in January.
Now, more than half of the fish consumed globally comes from fish farming and this is set to increase as the population grows and the pressure on wild capture fisheries intensifies.
"Aquaculture production is expected to continue growing by over 4 per cent a year until 2022, according to the latest FAO report. This rapid increase can bring problems - the faster the aquaculture industry grows, the greater its potential impact on the environment and local communities. Now is the time to address this," Chris Ninnes, ASC's CEO said.
"Aquaculture can meet the growing demand for seafood and through the work of programmes like the ASC we seek to help industry do that responsibly. It is fantastic to see large parts of the industry putting aside competition to collaborate on improvements, moving the industry towards sustainability."