THE Soil Association is consulting on proposed changes to its organic aquaculture standards and is calling on producers, industry experts and consumers with an interest in organic aquaculture to have their say.
The proposed new standards require organic aquaculture operators to go further than EU law in several key areas.
This includes a requirement for new fish farm sites to be selected responsibly – taking into account environmental factors, water quality, the potential for contamination and impacts on fish health.
Other additional standards will be maintained to ensure good animal welfare, high water quality, that only suitable veterinary treatments are used with longer withdrawal periods observed and the restriction of practices such as mussel seed dredging.
Speaking about the proposed new standards, Chris Atkinson, head of standards at the Soil Association said: ‘Globally, demand for farmed fish is increasing and as the industry expands we want to show that there is a better way to farm, for animal welfare, water quality and human health.
‘The ultimate purpose of organic certification is to make change in the world – to produce our food and other products in ways that are kinder to our planet and better for us.
‘The changes to our standards will help explain the difference that additional Soil Association standards make in the world and ensure the benefits are significant.
‘We want to encourage as many people as possible to respond to the consultation – especially those with expertise in organic and non-organic fish farming, fish welfare, feed and the production or harvesting of seaweed.
‘Consultation responses are important to the process, influencing our standards to ensure they are suitable for the industry and represent consumer expectations.’
The proposed changes to the Soil Association organic aquaculture standards are part of a wider standards review.
The Soil Association is updating its standards to make them as straightforward, practical and transparent as possible.
Organic food comes from trusted sources and meets strict standards laid down in European law, giving consumers confidence in the food they buy.
The review covers all sectors governed by the EU regulation: agriculture, aquaculture, processing and horticulture.
If agreed, the new Soil Association organic aquaculture standards will be published in January 2016. A suitable lead-in time for licensees and applicants to meet any additional standards will be provided.