Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co Ltd have become the first Chinese farms to achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification. This landmark achievement reflects the pioneering initiative and efforts of a few farms in the industry to tackle some of the major challenges facing tilapia farming in China.
The success of the farms and their respective processers Hainan Xiangtai Fisheries Co., Ltd and Hainan Sky-Blue Ocean Foods Co. Ltd was celebrated today during the Sustainable Seafood Forum in Qingdao.The formal handover of the certificates was conducted by the independent certification body that assessed the farms against the ASC standard, Intertek. The ceremony was attended by government officials, seafood industry representatives, NGOs and the media.
Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd are the first among a number of farms that undertook pre-assessments with help from WWF China to see if they operated in a way that meets the ASC Tilapia Standard. A third tilpia farm, Wenchang Zhou Qinfu, has been assessed against the ASC standard and hopes to be certified soon.
Achieving ASC certification brings global recognition that Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest tilapia farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd are operating in a responsible way. It marks the start of their contribution towards a global market for responsibly produced seafood.
Mr Yang Huaying, Deputy Executive Director Hainan Sky-Blue Ocean Foods Co. Ltd said: “We are pleased that Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest has passed the assessment against the ASC Tilapia Standard. ASC certification allows us to prove to our customers that we are committed to responsible aquaculture.”
Mr Liu Rongjie, President Xiangtai Fisheries Co. Ltd, said: “For us it is important be able to show through a third party that our ambitions towards responsible tilapia farming have been achieved. The ASC certification of Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd helps us communicate this to our stakeholders.”
Making progress towards a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible tilapia sector in the Chinese aquaculture industry has been achieved through a partnership between ASC, the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA) and WWF China. As a result the industry has begun to make real strides in improving the transparency of Chinese tilapia aquaculture.
Dr Cui He, Executive Vice President, CAPPMA, said: “I would like to congratulate the Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd for becoming the first tilapia farms in China to meet the rigorous requirements of the ASC Tilapia Standard. CAPPMA has been diligently working with ASC and WWF China to promote responsible aquaculture in China. This is a major step towards responsible aquaculture in this important market.”
Credible and independent farm certification
ASC does not audit or certify farms itself; this is done by independent certifiers. The certifiers have to undergo a rigorous process of accreditation by a company that is independent of ASC, Accreditation Services International (ASI). ASI also monitors the performance of accredited certifiers. Before certifiers can formally undertake audits their staff must have participated in an ASC Auditor Training course and passed the mandatory exam to demonstrate their full understanding of and competence in the application of the standard.
Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, said: “These certifications reflect the substantial efforts of the farms to make real improvements in their operations. The farms were subject to scrutiny by a team of independent experts, which assessed them against the strict requirements of the ASC Tilapia Standard. This is a major milestone and they should be immensely proud of their achievements.”
Throughout the assessment process stakeholders had the opportunity to input into the farm audits, with their views actively sought. This is a unique feature of the ASC programme.
The ASC Tilapia Standard development
Jin Zhonghao, Director of Market Transformation, WWF China, said: “The ASC standard for tilapia aquaculture was created by a series of open roundtable discussions coordinated by the WWF. The multi-stakeholder initiative involved more than 200 tilapia farming experts including producers, conservationists and scientists. The resulting standard is incredibly robust, built on scientific knowledge and practices aimed at addressing the key negative environmental and social impacts of the industry.”
By meeting the ASC Tilapia Standard the Qionghai Zhongpingzi Grobest Tilapia Farm and Chengmai Xingyuan Development Co. Ltd have demonstrated that they are well managed and minimise any adverse environmental or social impacts by, for example, focusing on the conservation and quality of water resources, no misuse of antibiotics, minimising escapes, compliance with strict feed requirements and meeting a range of social requirements.