First oyster farm certified against ASC bivalves standard

The Jersey Oyster Company has become the first oyster farm in the world to meet the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard for responsible bivalve aquaculture.
‘I am delighted to welcome Jersey Oyster Company to the ranks of ASC certified farms,’ said Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO.
‘Now I very much look forward to the first ASC certified oysters entering the market in the near future.
‘It is exciting to see farms that have chosen to engage with our bivalves programme, such as Jersey Oyster Company, meeting the ASC standard.
‘Two additional oyster farms in Jersey, Seymour Oyster Company and Jersey Sea Farms, are also awaiting the outcome of their assessments.
‘We want to see a wide range of species and farms of all sizes involved in our programme. These three farms are a great representation of independent small-scale farmers who see the value that ASC certification can bring.
‘They are front runners in responsible bivalve aquaculture.’
Charlie Mourant, technical administrator from Jersey Oyster Company, explained the importance of the ASC programme for their business.
‘Engaging in the ASC bivalve standard process has been invaluable to our local oyster farming industry as a means of benchmarking our production methods against the highest global standard for responsible aquaculture.’
The Jersey Oyster Company has been producing Pacific oysters for more than 40 years. The oysters are grown from seed obtained from onshore hatcheries and are supported by the daily natural filtering effect of the tide.
‘Oyster farming has benefits for the environment, including creating an ecosystem for other marine life and improving ocean water quality by the bivalve filtering process,’ said Chris Le Masurier, the company’s managing director.
‘Waste shell from the farm is crushed and used on the land as a valuable soil conditioner.’
The ASC bivalve standards address key potential adverse impacts of bivalve aquaculture. Protection of natural habitats, site impacts, pollution and waste management, responsible use of therapeutics and antibiotics, and labour rights for farm workers are some of the main areas addressed in the standards.
The ASC does not audit the farms itself; instead it makes use of third-party verification where external independent certifiers assess farms against the ASC standards.
The certifiers are in turn accredited and monitored by the independent body, Accreditation Service International (ASI).
Strong stakeholder engagement is also built into the ASC certification programme. Stakeholder views are actively sought as part of the audit process.
Planned farm audits must be publically announced at least 30 days prior to the assessment. All audit reports are made public on ASC’s website allowing for stakeholder input through a public comment period, a unique feature of the ASC programme, to ensure that the principles of inclusiveness and openness are adhered to.
These principles are also enshrined within the ASC’s organisational structure and approach.
With the recent certification of the Jersey Oyster Company and five scallop farms of Aquapesca in Peru, ASC certified bivalves are expected to hit the market within the near future.
And, with the two aforementioned oyster farms in Jersey and three mussel farms of Chilean Ria Austral awaiting the outcome of their assessments, the availability of certified bivalves will continue to grow.