Family-owned shrimp exporting company OMARSA, based in Ecuador, is the first shrimp producer to gain Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification.
OMARSA’s Camaronera Cachugran, Camaronera Chongon and Camaronera Puna sites were recognised as responsible and well managed farms following independent, third party assessment conducted by the certification body Institute for Marketecology (IMO).
Sandro Coglitore, OMARSA’s General Manager, said: “We are very proud to be the first to gain ASC certification for shrimp. We have worked hard to reach this point and have taken forward a number of initiatives, such as mangrove restoration projects. OMARSA is dedicated to responsible aquaculture and we are constantly investing to improve our shrimp farming operations.
“ASC certification helps to strengthen our position as a responsible shrimp exporting company. And, now our customers can verify that when they see the ASC logo on our products.”
Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, said: “I am delighted to see OMARSA gain ASC certification for their farms. They clearly have a strong ethos of ensuring environmental and social responsibility and the commitments they have made to further improvements will help to strengthen that reputation.
“This is quite a milestone for us to be celebrating; ASC certified shrimp has been eagerly awaited by the market. I look forward to seeing OMARSA’s ASC certified products reach the shelves.”
OMARSA’s pledge for responsible production
OMARSA has a vertically integrated operation. In addition to the three shrimp farms, it has three hatcheries and a processing plant.
Established in 1977, OMARSA is among Ecuador’s top five shrimp exporting companies. Underpinning its operations is a mission to produce shrimp responsibly and it constantly seeks to improve its production systems to ensure it does so.
OMARSA worked with Blueyou Consulting to improve the farm management and practices and reduce any adverse environmental and social impacts, with the goal of meeting the ASC Shrimp Standard’s requirements.
The project was co-funded through the IDH Farmers in Transition (FIT) fund, which aims to stimulate and support the production of responsibly farmed shrimp.
ASC certified shrimp soon to hit the market
OMARSA’s ASC labelled products will hit the market next month, with the first products destined for Scandinavia. OMARSA also supplies other countries across Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, South America and Asia.
ASC Shrimp Standard
Shrimp farms have been able to enter ASC assessment since the shrimp standard and audit manual were finalised in March 2014.
ASC strives to have a fully transparent certification process. The announcement of OMARSA’s farm audits was publicly visible for at least 30 days before the actual audits. Once the farms were assessed by an IMO auditor, the draft audit reports for these farms were available on the ASC website for 10 days for further stakeholder consultation. After the public consultation the certifier made their decision on whether the farms passed the audit or not based on the audit findings and stakeholder input.
Through ASC certification, shrimp farms aim to measurably reduce adverse impacts on the environment and local communities by preserving wetlands and mangroves; addressing the transfer of viruses and reducing disease; bringing cleaner water and ensuring the responsible use of water; ensuring the responsible use of feed; and addressing biodiversity issues.