The ASC has published the latest draft of the Group Certification methodology and is currently seeking public comment on the new approach.
Public consultation period: 20 May – 20 June 2016
As the majority of global aquaculture production is done by small to medium-sized farmers, it is vital to ensure that the ASC programme evolves to accommodate farms of all sizes. Group certification is an opportunity to expand the number of farms eligible to participate in the certification scheme. The project is a key milestone in the ASC’s mission to move the industry towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
The Group Certification methodology is comprised of two parts, the first details requirements for the Group Management Body (Group) and the second applies to the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB).
A Group is formed when a number of producers join together in order to become certified. In order to effectively manage the collection of farms, leadership of the Group is assigned to a select subset of participants known as the Group Management Body. Critical aspects of becoming certified, including education and compliance with ASC Standards, managing relationships with the CAB and recording all sales of certified product falls to the Group Management Body. The management may also add or remove members based on the findings of internal inspections. To ensure that these functions are carried out in a consistent manner, the Group Management Body maintains a written management system and a centralised record of activity.
The CAB conducts audits of the Group. Areas of responsibility include thorough audits of the management system and activities, and examination of the records kept by the Group Management Body. In addition, the CAB conducts audits of select Group members and their production sites using a risk-based analysis. The goal of the sample site audits is to verify member compliance and ensure reliability and consistency across the Group.
Concurrent with the pubic consultation, seven farmer groups will begin pilot testing the new methodology with the support of auditors from two ASC accredited CABs. Participants in the pilot programme include shrimp and rainbow trout farms in Bangladesh, Finland, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The pilot testing is made possible by in kind and/or in cash support from the Groups, the CABs and ASC partners such as IDH, Solidaridad, Worldfish, WWF Indonesia and WWF Vietnam.
The creation of the Group Certification methodology was announced in December 2015. Over the past months the ASC, with active support from the Technical Working Group-a select number of experts representing NGOs, farmers, and a cross section of stakeholders- has created a working draft for the Group Certification methodology. At the close of the consultation period on 20 June, the ASC will consider all public comments and feedback from the pilot groups and CABs during the review process.
The ASC anticipates publishing the final version of the Group Certification methodology in late autumn 2016.