16 facts about ASC
1. Why is a second trademark for fish being introduced?
The current sustainability label for fish - MSC of the Marine Stewardship Council - only applies to fish, crustaceans and shellfish which have been caught in the wild. The ASC trademark applies to responsibly farmed fish.
2. What does ASC-certified fish farming entail?
Fish bearing the ASC quality mark comes from farms that demonstrably respect the environment and adhere to guidelines pertaining to food additives and social conditions.
3.What is the ASC?
ASC is an abbreviation that stands for Aquaculture Stewardship Council. ASC is an independent, international non-profit organisation that has developed a certification programme for responsible aquaculture. By choosing ASC-certified fish, consumers can rest assured that they are buying responsibly farmed fish, crustaceans and shellfish.
ASC works with international producers, companies in the fish chain and supermarkets to meet the growing consumer demand for responsible fish. The ASC quality mark makes it easy for anyone to make a conscious and responsible choice - whether while shopping or during dinner in a restaurant.
4. What is the mission of ASC?
To transform aquaculture towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility using efficient market mechanisms that create value across the chain.
5. What is the importance of (more responsible) fish farming?
For many people in the world, fish is part of the daily diet. Eating fish is generally healthier and more affordable (and often also better for the environment!) than eating meat. As the world population grows, the need for protein-rich foods increases as well. For people and the environment, it is of great importance that aquaculture can grow in a responsible manner. Responsible in terms of the environment, but also in terms of social aspects. For the sector, it is important that more awareness is raised among consumers, thus also increasing the demand for responsibly farmed fish.
6. What exactly does ASC do?
The main task of ASC is the introduction and management of the standards developed for each species of fish.
To retain its independent position, ASC works with a programme for independent assessment and certification by third parties. This means that ASCs does not assess fish farms itself. Instead, certificates are issued by an independently accredited certifying agency. This certifier carries out the assessment of fish farms and decides whether they meet the ASC standards.
7. What does the ASC standard for responsible fish farming cover?
The ASC Standards cover the following seven principles:
1. Legal compliance (obeying the law, the legal right to be there)
2. Preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity
3. Preservation of water resources
4. Preservation of diversity of species and wild populations (e.g., preventing escapes which could pose a threat to wild fish)
5. Responsible use of animal feed and other resources
6. Animal health (no unnecessary use of antibiotics and chemicals)
7. Social responsibility (e.g. no child labour, health and safety of workers, freedom of assembly, community relations)
8. Which fish farms can participate in the ASC programme?
The ASC programme is open to all fish farms, regardless of their size or location. To promote the equal availability of the own quality mark programme around the world, ASC works together with stakeholders and fish farms across the globe. Small fish farm can make use of support programmes from, among others, the Sustainable Trade Initiative or the World Wildlife Fund.
At present, eight standards have been developed for respectively tilapia, pangasius, abalone, bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops), salmon, shrimp, and serial/cobia. In the future, more standards for other species will certainly follow, for example for sea bass or Dutch catfish.
9. What advantages does the ASC certificate hold for fish farms?
Most fish farms indicate that ASC certification helps them to maintain their position in existing markets and tap into new ones. For other fish farms, the growing demand for responsible products constitutes a strong incentive to demonstrate how well they are doing in this respect and they want to see this confirmed through the independent quality mark.
10. What does the ASC programme mean for people who depend on fish farming?
By promoting the responsible management of fish farms, ASC contributes to the livelihood of communities which depend on fish farming. The logo contributes to their continuity.
11. How transparent is the ASC programme?
The ASC certification programme is very transparent. On the website, audits (inspections) at fish farms are announced. The report of the certifier can be viewed for ten days and contested if so desired. As an organisation, ASC is highly transparent as well. Reports of all the board meetings and of various project groups are available for perusal at asc-aqua.org.
12. How does ASC work together with stakeholders?
ASC was founded in the Netherlands by the WWF and IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative). The standards and norms were established via a series of 'roundtable discussions' called the 'Aquaculture Dialogues'.
All conceivable parties from around the world were involved in the 'Aquaculture Dialogues'. For example: fish farms, the fish processing industry, supermarkets and food service providers, NGOs, government organisations and scientific institutes.
In the future, this group of stakeholders will also remains affiliated with the continuously developing process of responsible fish farming that ASC strives for.
13. As a non-profit organisation, where does ASC's income come from?
ASC is a foundation and non-profit organisation and to a great extent depends on the support of donors who wish to promote and support responsible aquaculture. This often involves donations from companies and others (e.g., government agencies and foundations).
To get the process started, WWF and IDH financially assisted with the development of ASC.
In addition, there are extra revenues for ASC as administrator of the usage fees for use of the ASC quality mark. For ASC, this is an important tool for becoming financially more independent.
14. How can I as a consumer contribute to more responsible fish farming?
By consciously choosing responsibly farmed fish, crustaceans and shellfish with the ASC logo.
15. How can I know for certain that fish with the ASC logo has been responsibly farmed?
The aquamarine ASC logo guarantees that fish, crustaceans and shellfish bearing this trademark were raised at a responsible farm and are traceable as such. Certificates of traceability throughout the entire chain ensure that independent experts have ascertained that fish with the ASC logo comes from an ASC-certified fish farm and that the fish remains separated from fish without ASC certification during processing.
16. Why is responsible aquaculture used and not sustainable aquaculture?
Responsible is a term that consumers understand better than sustainable. In addition, there are certain aspects, for example in relation to the feed, which have made ASC decide to use responsible instead of sustainable.