Get Certified! Farms
1. What are the benefits of ASC certification?
Market access and pricing
Consumers are increasingly interested in responsibly produced seafood. ASC certified farms have an advantage in meeting that growing consumer demand. It gives you access to a marketplace that is committed to the ASC and to secure contracts with committed businesses. (providing long-term business security).
ASC certification can also potentially lead to market access with ‘a better price for a better product' - creating long term relationships with buyers and getting recognition and reward for responsibly produced products.
Most credible and robust standards
Farms that are certified in compliance with the ASC Standards show that they employ environmental and socially responsible methods. The ASC Standards are the most credible standard for responsible aquaculture. They have been created by an open and transparent multi-stakeholder initiative with over 2,000 participants. They are built on the best scientific knowledge and industry practices. In order to guarantee consistent application of the Standards ASC invests great effort into the training of auditors, pilot-testing of Standards and developing support material such as the Better Management Practice and Auditor Guidance Manuals.
Independent and transparent 3rd party certification
ASC certification gives customers confidence in your good business practices. It is a metrics-based, independent and fully transparent, third-party verification. It is ISEAL and FAO compliant to ensure the quality of the farm assessment. As a result, ASC certification is the most credible benchmark of responsible aquaculture.
ASC recognises and rewards responsible producers. Through certification you will enjoy an improved reputation and gain positive publicity. Farms that have been successfully certified can make a credible claim about using responsible aquaculture practices to ensure its customers, consumers and civil society organisations.
2. How do I become ASC certified?
For your farm to become ASC certified you need follow the below steps:
First you need to appoint a Certifier that will assess your farm. When you have implemented the requirements of the ASC Standard applicable for your species and feel that you are ready to become certified, you need to select your Certifier. Only independent Certifiers who have been accredited by Accreditation Service International (ASI) to certify against the ASC Standards may be used for the audit. When selecting your Certifier we strongly recommend that you ask multiple Certifiers to submit quotes for the work. View a list of accredited Certifiers. You can apply for an audit with an accredited Certifier by contacting the Certifier directly and entering into an agreement with them. ASC is not involved in this. The certification process starts when a Certifier has been appointed.
You need to prepare for audit of your farm. Once you have entered into an agreement with your Certifier and scheduled a date for the audit, you should prepare for the audit of your farm. In the audit, you must be able to demonstrate that your farm use methods that can be certified against the ASC Standards for responsible aquaculture.
The farm audit determines if your farm meets the ASC Standard. Based on the audit the Certifier will prepare an audit summary report on the results of the certification process. This report will be shared with you and form the basis for the certification decision. Upon successful completion of the certification process the Certifier will make a positive certification decision and issue a ‘certificate of conformity'. From that moment onwards you will be ready to sell your seafood as an ASC certified product.
After audit is completed you need to plan for annual audits. After your farm has been successfully audited, it is important to remember that you need to organise annual audits to remain ASC certified.
3. How can I prepare for certification?
Farms can prepare for the audit in a range of ways such as contacting their stakeholders to ask for support and/or participation in the assessment process. Farms can hire a project manager to help with the farm assessment process. Grants may also be available, and they can check if they are eligible for a producer capacity building programme.
4. Can I get help with preparing for certification and/or implementing improvements?
If your farm does not yet meet the ASC Standards there are help to be found. You can hire a technical consultant to conduct a gap-analysis to assess is your farm meets the ASC standard. The consultant can advise what improvements are necessary to meet the ASC Standards and develop an action plan to implement them.
5. What does the audit involve?
The audit involves certain steps that the Certifier follows to assess if the farms meets the ASC Standards.
First the farm announces to their stakeholder that they will undergo an audit. The ASC is informed and communicates this announcement further to other interested parties.
The Certifier visits the farm for the onsite audit, which takes approximately 1 to 4 days. All technical information and reports are analysed, and interviews are conducted. This information is used to determine the score the farm receives.
A draft client report is created, which the farm can comment on within a certain time period.
Following the client review, the Certifier decides if the farm meets the ASC Standards and can be certified. A final report is created and sent to the ASC for publishing on its website. The ASC then alerts all interested parties.
The Certifier issues a Public certification report and a certificate for the farm, which become certified for 1 year onwards.
6. When can I apply to get ASC certified?
For the four finished ASC Standards - Tilapia, Pangasius, Abalone and Bivalves
The ASC is in its finishing stages of opening up accreditation for the Tilapia and Pangasius Standards. This is planned for early 2012. Following this it is expected to take approximately months until Certifiers are ready to carry out assessments against the Standards. To see which certifiers are ready to assess farms look under Find a certifier.
For the remaining ASC Standards - Shrimp, Salmon, Trout and Seriola/Cobia
The Aquaculture Dialogues for shrimp, salmon, trout and seriola/cobia are in progress. The Standards for these four species groups are expected to be handed over to the ASC in April, 2012. Once they are handed over, the ASC will start preparing for opening up accreditation for these species groups as well.
7. How much will it cost to be ASC certified?
It is hard to give an exact figure of how much the costs of certification will be because these costs depend on the unique situation of each company. However, we can give you an indication as to what these costs will include:
Investment costs: The costs that are needed to implement and comply with the requirements of the ASC Standards. These costs will greatly vary between farms depending on their current level of compliance to the Standards before certification and the investments needed to meet these.
Audit costs: The costs of the audit to ensure that a company is in compliance with the ASC Standards. This cost is agreed upon between you and your Certifier and is mainly composed of the time the auditor spends (ask for their day rate and whether they will always charge for a full day) and their travel and accommodation expenses. The ASC farm audit is expected to take between 1 to 4 days. The level of these costs will depend on the scope, size and complexity of the audit, and vary between Certifiers and countries. To get a quote for the cost of audit contact a Certifier listed under Find a certifier.
The cost of certification are at the expense of the farmer itself. However, the benefits of certification outweigh the costs of certification. The improvements that certification brings to you as farmer often results in quality improvements, higher productivity and cost reductions. This leads to a larger difference between cost price and sales price, hence profit. This profit can be used to finance your certification costs and invest in your business. In addition, certification enables farmers and buyers to distinguish themselves from conventional actors and make credible claims on the responsible origin of their products. This creates added value to your products and access to new (sustainable) markets.
8. What is the validity of an ASC certificate?
The certificate is valid for maximum 3 years from the date of issue. Every year a surveillance audit will be made to assure that the farm meets the guidelines. Only when you have a valid certificate are you allowed to sell your seafood as ASC certified farmed responsibly. After the expiry date of your certificate, ASC can no longer guarantee that the you meet the requirements of its Standard(s).
9. How long does it take to become ASC certified?
The lengths of the assessment period will depend on various factors such as how well the farm is prepared and on the commitment of other stakeholders involved in the assessment process. The actual farm audit takes between 1 to 4 days. The timeframe may also be affected by the amount of available resources of the Certifier.
10. Which farms are eligible to be assessed?
Producers who farm one of the species covered by the ASC standards - abalone, bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops), cobia, pangasius, salmon, seriola, shrimp, tilapia or trout - can take part in the ASC certification programme.
Note: The accreditation of Certifiers must be open for your species group before you can apply to be Certified. You can find the most up to date planning information under Species and Planning.
11. What happens after certification?
Public certification report
After a farm has passed its assessment and become certified, the Certifier will issue a Public certification report including any action plan commitments that need to be met by the farm.
Following this the farm can make a public announcement about becoming ASC certified. The rules for this public announcement are...
Your farm becoming ASC certified is a great opportunity for promotion and media exposure. It is a good idea to put together a basic communication plan for how the news will be communicated to various stakeholders and interested parties.
After certification it is important to plan for the reoccurring annual audit of your farm. You and your Certifier will set a date of the annual audit. The Certifier will communicate this to the ASC, who then informs interested stakeholders.
12. Can a farm use a third-party if they are not able to do the analyses required for ASC certification themselves?
Yes that is possible. Farms can outsource these activities as long as they can prove that the third-party company delivers exactly what is requested in the ASC Standards.