There are no shortcuts to ASC certification – the only way to achieve recognition is by meeting all of the requirements of the most stringent standards in farmed seafood. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any help available to farms that are determined to meet these rigorous standards, as a recently certified seabream farm in Japan has discovered.

Urata Suisan is a producer of red seabream (also known as Japanese seabream or its scientific name Pagrus major) off the coast of Amakusa City in the Kumamoto Prefecture on Japan’s southern Kyushu island. Only the second seabream farmer outside of Europe to achieve ASC certification (the other was also in Japan), Urata had worked with a number of partners to make this possible.

Meeting challenges through collaboration

The certification is the result of an Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP). These projects are based on the principle that achieving certification can be a challenging process, and these challenges can be better met through collaboration.

Urata Suisan is a member of the Kumamoto Prefecture Seawater Aquaculture Cooperative, and they worked with feed producer Skretting and UMITO Partners, a sustainability consultancy, to achieve certification.

By providing expertise, guidance about the ASC requirements, and advice on what improvements would be needed to meet them, these collaborators helped Urata Suisan become the first producer in Kumamoto Prefecture to achieve ASC certification.

Different stakeholders working together

Koji Yamamoto, General Manager of ASC Japan, said: “The ASC programme is all about collaboration. All of our standards were developed by lots of different stakeholders working together, and that’s how we develop own improvements. So we are delighted to see collaboration helping farms to achieve ASC certification.

“Urata, Skretting, and UMITO have not only helped this farm to improve practices but will also encourage other producers in the region to follow suit and drive up standards across the industry.”

Amakusa is a city with a close connection to the sea, as it is based across two main islands and a number of smaller islets. Urata makes use of these waters to grow its seabream locally in the sea around one of those islands, Goshoura.

Masaki Urata, Director of Urata Fisheries, said: “We’d like to thank all of our partners for helping us achieve this significant milestone. This is just the beginning and we will continue to work to improve our practices and encourage others to do the same.”

Helping farms around the world

Red seabream is one of the most popular fish used for sushi in Japan. The texture is firm but tender and has a mild, sweet flavour that is very clean. It is also exported to a number of markets globally.

Improvement projects play an important role in the ASC programme. They allow farms to work towards certification where otherwise they may not feel able to, which helps spread the benefits of ASC certification further.

ASC’s wider Improver Programme helps farms around the world to drive up their standards, whether they are looking to achieve ASC certification or if they are not yet ready but still want to take the first step towards better practices. ASC also produces benchmarks and guidance to help farms that are certified to local standards learn what other improvements they would need to make to meet ASC’s standards.

Published on
Tuesday, 23 November 2021
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