Earlier this month we published our first Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) report. This is just one output from our Monitoring and Evaluation programme, which aims to measure the impacts and positive change that ASC standards have on the environment, farm workers, and local communities.
The report sets out all kinds of trends, facts, and case studies, in an accessible way. But not everyone has time to read a full report, and if that sounds like you, don’t worry – we’ve set out some of the most interesting things we’ve learned from this report below. There’s a more detailed summary on our Monitoring & Evaluation page, where you can also download the full report if this whets your appetite.
1. The ASC programme is gaining momentum
In the first five years of the ASC programme, 148 farms became certified and more than 2,500 products were certified around the world. That was a solid start, but growth has really expanded over the next five years – with over 1,000 farms certified, nearly 18,000 products approved and almost 2 million tonnes of seafood certified. We can’t wait to see where we’ll be in another five years!
2. ASC farms are reducing their use of wild-caught fish
The use of wild-caught fish in the feed used by farms is an important issue – if it’s not sourced responsibly it can increase the pressure on wild stocks. The good news from the M&E report is that ASC certified salmon and shrimp farms have reduced their use of wild-caught fish by 3% between 2015 and 2018. And the report also picks up on a wider trend among many different certified species, where farms are coordinating more closely with their feed suppliers to use more responsibly sourced ingredients.
3. Health and Safety improvements
All ASC standards include social requirements as well as environmental. These cover many issues including the fair pay and treatment of workers, and community relationships. The M&E report has found improvements in a number of these requirements for ASC farms, particularly when it comes to Health and Safety. Health and Safety can sometimes seem like an afterthought for those of us who work in offices, but in an environment like a fish farm it can be a matter of life and death. Fortunately, performance in this area has improved on ASC farms, with better training, enhanced provision of protective equipment, and renovations to living quarters.
4. Good practices are spreading
Many producers own more than one farm, and where these producers have had one of their farms certified, they apply the lessons to their other farms, allowing the benefit of these better management practices to spread.
5. ASC certified farmers are inspiring!
The M&E report isn’t all statistics and charts – it also includes case studies from farmers and other stakeholders, giving first-hand experience of the impact that ASC has had. One of the most inspiring stories in the report is about Miyagi Prefecture Fisheries Cooperative in Japan. These oyster farmers saw their farm devastated by the 2011 tsunami. Rather than giving up, they used this an opportunity to change the way they farm, implemented more sustainable practices and encouraging better working conditions. After they achieved ASC certification, it helped them to sell their products to more stores, and just as importantly it helped them demonstrate the changes they’d made, and helped them to attract a younger generation to start working at the cooperative.