Completion of Standards Review, GSSI Benchmark Process Among Recent Developments at ASC
In only its seventh year of operation, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has experienced steady growth and been recognised as one of the most highly regarded certification schemes in the world. In order to maintain a robust programme and sustain momentum, the ASC has announced two exciting new developments for the organisation.
The first updates from the operational review of the ASC Salmon and Tilapia standards that began in 2015 have been finalised and agreed by the ASC Technical Advisory Group. The ASC is dedicated to measurably improving the environmental and social performance of aquaculture producers through the use of metrics-based farm performance standards. Each farm standard undergoes periodic review to ensure their continued effectiveness and, during the most recent review period, it was determined that improvements would be made to the ASC standards for tilapia and salmon.
The operational review ensures the continued efficacy of the standards and is focussed on areas where the performance of a standard is not as anticipated during the Aquaculture Dialogues or may not deliver on the intent as set out in ASC's Theory of Change. The most recent updates include feedback from three rounds of public comment, improvements to the requirements for salmon feed and new restrictions on the use of antibiotics. The changes have also been strengthened and improved in response to feedback received on their operational impact and effectiveness since their initial publication.
In late March, the ASC entered the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) Benchmark Process. The GSSI benchmark is based on United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) Guidelines for the Ecolabelling of Fish and Fishery Products. GSSI offers the market a pre-competitive approach to provide clarity on seafood certification and ensure consumer confidence. Programmes are benchmarked through performance indicators for governance, operational management, supply chain traceability and auditing, and were developed in consultation with many stakeholders including environmental NGOs, independent experts and intergovernmental organisations.
"I am pleased that the ASC is moving forward with this project that will allow us to demonstrate the credibility of the standards developed through the Aquaculture Dialogues", said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. "We also look forward to the future inclusion of social indicators within the GSSI benchmark. Social indicators account for up to 40% of the content of an ASC standard and we hope to see the further promotion of these aspects in benchmarked programmes in response to the interest of corporate seafood buyers globally".
The ASC standard goes well beyond the criteria set by GSSI. The programme was developed according to UN FAO Guidelines and is the only aquaculture certification scheme to be recognised as a full member of the ISEAL Alliance, which requires inclusive and transparent standard setting.