ASC consults worldwide on single farm standard

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The Aquaculture Stewardship Council has launched one of its largest ever public consultations, to seek stakeholder feedback on its plan to create a single ASC Farm Standard.

The ASC currently applies a number of different standards for farming specific species. The aim of the single standard is to provide greater consistency and harmonise requirements across all farmed seafood species currently targeted by ASC.

The standard has involved years of research and development, including expert input and multiple previous rounds of public consultation. It will be split into three parts, called principles. Principle One covers legal compliance and effective business management, Principle Two covers environmental sustainability, and Principle Three covers social responsibility. As with ASC’s current standards, farms must meet all indicators in all three parts to achieve certification.

This round of public consultation covers the entire Standard, except for fish welfare which was the topic of a separate public consultation in 2021. Ultimately, the fish welfare content will be adopted into the ASC Farm Standard as well, the ASC said.

ASC’s Director of Standards and Science, Michiel Fransen, said: “ASC’s Farm Standard will address all main impacts of aquaculture in a consistent manner across the industry in a more effective and efficient manner.

“We are now coming to the final stages of this project, and are asking for stakeholder feedback so we can be sure the final Standard will meet expectations of all those that will use it.”

This round of consultation covers a number of issues including proposals for requiring all certified farms to report energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, a proposal aimed at combatting sea lice, and the introduction of Risk Management Plans for key topics like health and safety.

Due to the size of the Farm Standard, ASC has organised several rounds of public consultation. This is the second and final consultation for the legal and social principles. After public feedback has been considered, Principle One and Principle Three will be finalised and sent to ASC’s Supervisory Board for approval with an aim of publishing thereafter.

Stakeholders can see more details on the proposed Farm Standard, including how to provide feedback, including through a survey and by joining workshops, on the ASC website. The consultations will run for two months, from 1 March to 30 April 2022.

ASC will conduct a final round of consultation on the environmental criteria later this year, while also carrying out on-farm pilots to understand where clarification in Standard writing is needed which elements need guidance for implementation. Principle Two will be finalised and sent to ASC’s Supervisory Board for approval in September 2023 with an aim of publishing thereafter.

The ASC is an independent, not-for-profit organisation. It was co-founded by the World Wildlife Fund and The Sustainable Trade Initiative in 2010 to manage the certification of responsible fish farming across the globe.

Michiel Fransen

Author

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