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On April 22 each year, the world celebrates Earth Day. The annual event is a time to think critically about the ways our choices— both individually and collectively— affect the natural environment, and to take action to preserve it.

Earth Day is special for its ability to spur world-wide conversations about the impact of human consumption, and it can provide further motivation for those who want to do their part to protect the environment.

The ASC is proud to join the global community in this celebration. As an organisation, our goals are of a piece with the Earth Day movement and you could make the case that we celebrate Earth Day every day.

Since it was founded in 2010, the ASC programme has helped hundreds of farms worldwide upgrade their operations and become environmentally responsible. We are dedicated to improving the health of the aquatic ecosystem by reducing the harmful impacts of aquaculture on the environment and the communities in which farms operate.

The production of food for our growing global population is more expensive then we might think. The environmental costs of feeding people—the water use, the felling of trees and reshaping of landscapes to provide areas to raise proteins, the use of fuels to transport feed and support trade of foodstuffs— have taken a significant toll on our world.

Currently, aquaculture production accounts for more than 50 per cent of the world’s consumable fish. According to the FAO, unless production in the sector doubles over the next few decades it will be extremely difficult to feed the growing number of people on our planet by 2050. In fact, aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing animal food producing sector.

As aquaculture grows, so, too, does its impact on the environment and local communities.

Farms that are not well managed can have negative impacts that go beyond the immediate concerns of pollution in our oceans and waterways. However, the ASC believe that aquaculture can be done responsibly.

The ASC certification was created as an independent, third-party programme to reduce the impacts of aquaculture on the environment through a scientifically robust set of standard to minimise negative impacts and move the industry towards sustainability. These standards were developed by more than 2,000 stakeholders— including scientists, academics, conservation groups and the industry— in a transparent and inclusive process, taking into account both FAO guidelines and ISEAL codes of good practice.

Today, ASC certification is available for tilapia, pangasius, salmon, shrimp, trout, bivalves and abalone, and will soon be available for seriola and cobia. Each ASC standard covers seven principles relating to legal compliance, biodiversity, water use, the protection and promotion of the diversity of species, feed, animal health and the social responsibilities of the farm. And, because we recognise that no standard is perfect, we are dedicated to improving our standards at regular intervals, in order that we maintain a robust and meaningful programme that keeps up with best practises and incorporates the voices of many stakeholders.

We are now in our sixth year and the certification programme, together with the ASC on-pack logo, is making real change. Farms that meet the ASC standard deliver benefits through the preservation of local biodiversity, a cleaner seabed, cleaner water and healthier fish.

The ASC’s strict environmental and social standards also inspire confidence in consumers and retailers. In order to reward and distinguish farmers who operate responsibly, those who meet the standards can use the ASC logo on their packaging.

Consumers who see the logo know that seafood bearing it is sourced from responsible farms that care for the environment and their employees. As more and more people make the deliberate choice to purchase only certified seafood, farms with good practices are rewarded.  And, because increased consumer demand influences lower performing farms to improve their environmental performance in order to grow and maintain market share, consumers play a key role in the movement to change the industry with each purchase.

As you can see, for the ASC, everyday is Earth Day. We are doing our part in the overall movement to protect our world through standards that set criteria for responsible farming that drive industry changes and help farms minimise environmental impacts.

During this year’s celebrations, we urge you to think about how what you eat, and how the choices you make when doing your weekly food shop, impact our environment. We at the ASC would be thrilled to have you join us in our efforts to safeguard the oceans and protect our natural resources for future generations.

Published on
Thursday, 21 April 2016
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