The number of farm sites certified under the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) scheme grew by 20% last year, according to the ASC’s report 2021.
In the organisation’s first ever annual report, ASC reveals that it now sets the standards for around 2,000 farm sites, covering 49 species. ASC-certified production now exceeds 2.5 million tonnes annually.
During 2021, ASC certified farms made 2,780 improvements across the 11 standards in the areas of environmental performance (1,800), social responsibility (893) and legal compliance (87).
By the end of the year, the availability of ASC-certified products grew by 10% compared to the previous year, bringing over 20,000 ASC labelled products to consumers, with over 275,000 tonnes sold. Global retail markets continued to demonstrate a strong preference for salmon and shrimp, which account for 70% of ASC labelled product weight. Moreover, demand is rising for other important regional species, such as trout, seabass, and seabream. There was strong uptake of ASC labelled products in Southern European markets and an increased strategic focus on bringing key species to US and UK markets.
Chris Ninnes, ASC CEO said: “We are proud to publish the first Annual Report which celebrates not only the growing recognition for responsible aquaculture around the world, but also reaffirms our commitment towards continued progress.
“While 2021 challenged ASC’s innovation to continue promoting our programme and ASC labelled products we found new ways to reach our audiences, drive improvements to our systems and invest in our organisation.”
In 2021, 67 assessments of Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) performance were conducted covering 92% of defined target areas and to address incidents. The number of CABs in the ASC programme grew to 14, representing 184 auditors worldwide qualified to evaluate farms against ASC’s strict environmental and social requirements.
The annual report also shows that ASC hosted events, competitions, promotions and tasting sessions, delivering educational and entertaining campaigns to engage consumers in collaboration with over 230 commercial and non-commercial partners. Its partners have included retailers, fish suppliers, fishmongers, top brands, restaurants and food chains, NGOs, zoos, aquariums, and museums.
Dave Martin, Program Director at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, a non-profit organisation that aims to rebuild depleted fish stocks and reduce the environmental and social impacts of fishing and fish farming, said: “It has been a valuable and informative process to collaborate with ASC over the past few years to explore how we can mutually support responsible aquaculture, and in particular aquaculture improvements.”
Ninnes said: “We are excited about our continuous improvements, programme developments and increasing awareness in support of our mission and look forward to demonstrating annual progress in the years to come.”