The ASC’s new Feed Standard will take a holistic approach
The impacts of the feed used in aquaculture can be a source of criticism for the industry. This month, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) will help to tackle this important challenge with the launch of its Feed Standard.
The Standard, due to be launched on June 15, has been developed over a number of years by a diverse group of experts comprising feed producers, retailers, NGOs, farmers, and other stakeholders.
Whereas much of the debate over aquafeed focuses on fishmeal, the Standard will take a more holistic approach, covering both marine and land-based ingredients. It will require that feed mills meet strict environmental and social requirements; source ingredients from socially responsible suppliers; and use environmentally sustainable raw materials. In doing so, issues in both the supply chains and at raw material levels will be addressed. Requirements on reporting of performance will also improve the transparency of the industry, reward sustainability, and assist future research into feed sustainability.
After launch, the Standard will enter a 14-month “effective period”, allowing auditors, feed manufacturers and their suppliers to familiarise themselves with the Standard and prepare for certification. Following that period, farms will then have 24 months to switch to ASC compliant feed in order to continue meeting the ASC Farm Standards.
Chris Ninnes, ASC CEO, said: “Marine ingredients play an important role providing vital nutrients to farmed fish, but like everything they must be used and sourced responsibly. Rather than driving substitution of one type of ingredient with another, the ASC Feed Standard will recognise that all ingredients – marine and agricultural – can have benefits as well as impacts, and must be addressed holistically.
“We know many producers and feed manufacturers are already taking this issue seriously, and we want to reward them and incentivise others to follow suit. This standard could not have been produced without the work and expertise of our multi-stakeholder Steering Committee and I’d like to thank them for their contribution to this important milestone for the wider industry.”
The Feed Standard will take the ASC’s approach to responsible aquaculture and extend it to the feed mills that manufacture aquafeed, as well as the suppliers of their ingredients. These mills will be the facilities audited against the standard, but they and farms will be given time to ensure their supply chains meet ASC requirements. The Standard will also incentivise more feed mills to work towards certification to meet growing demand from ASC farms.
As well as environmental sustainability, mills must also ensure they and their suppliers are socially responsible. For instance, independent auditors must verify that mills are not using forced or child labour, pay and treat their staff fairly, and must not discriminate on any grounds. They must also be responsible neighbours, communicating proactively with their local communities. Certified feed mills are required to incentivise their supply chains to adhere to these principles as well, ensuring an impact in areas where the risk of these issues are more prevalent.
ASC will be providing additional documents for auditors and feed mills to provide clear guidance on how the standard should be implemented.
Keep an eye on the ASC website www.asc-aqua.org for full details after the Feed Standard has launched on 15 June.