The Tropical Marine Finfish Standard has been handed over to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and is now open for public consultation. The standard focuses on four species groups- grouper, snapper, barramundi and pompano- and was posted on the ASC website on May 31 for a 30 day public consultation period that will conclude on June 30.
The standard is the result of the Tropical Marine Finfish Aquaculture Dialogue. The dialogue commenced in 2013 and the resulting draft standard reflects the input of almost 100 stakeholders including producers, seafood buyers, scientists, academics, government representatives and civil society organizations (CSOs). WWF took the lead in developing the standard and will remain a stakeholder, however it has now been handed over to the ASC to manage the public consultation phase and finalise the standard.
“We want to thank all of those who have worked so hard and contributed to the development of the Tropical Marine Finfish Standard,” said Colin Brannen, Technical Coordinator of Standards for ASC. “WWF has led the creation of this standard in a transparent and inclusive process, and we are excited to now take the lead and work with all stakeholders to bring this standard to completion. We already have a lot of interest from farms in Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia and we look forward to working with them and others to make the industry more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.”
“We are delighted that the ASC has agreed to lead on finalising this process, which was initiated by WWF three years ago in response to industry requests and in line with the growing environmental impacts from the farming of tropical marine species,” said Dr Geoffrey Muldoon, Senior Manager with WWFs Coral Triangle Program. “The ASC has considerable experience and technical proficiency, which will give the process integrity and ensure this new Standard is finalized in a timely manner to meet market demands. WWF will continue to support the process and encourage stakeholder engagement to ensure a robust final standard.”
All feedback received during the consultation period will be considered and potentially included in the revised standard. The revised version of the Tropical Marine Finfish Standard will then be posted for a second public consultation period in accordance with ISEAL guidelines. The ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practices for Setting Social and Environmental Standards specifies that organisations must conduct two 30-day public consultation periods. The ASC is the only aquaculture certification to be a full member of ISEAL and conducts all processes according to their guidelines for credible, inclusive and transparent standard setting
Background to the development
In October 2013, WWF convened a meeting of the Grouper, Snapper & Barramundi Aquaculture Dialogue (GSBAD) in Malaysia to discuss the development of standards for responsible farming of these species.
Due to capacity and resource restraints the dialogue process was put on hold, but was then re-initiated in 2016, when an interim Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was formed with the aim of updating the early draft and preparing the draft standard for public comment. In December 2016, the TAG convened in Bali, Indonesia to produce draft criteria, indicators and requirements for each principle for the Tropical Marine Finfish Standard.
Purpose of the standard
The ASC is a market-based programme, and the number of requests received for the developments of new species is an important consideration when determining whether to add a new standard. Since the programme launched in 2010, requests for the development of many new standards have been received, especially for tropical marine finfish species. Although the four species addressed by the Tropical Marine Finfish Standard are farmed globally, the majority of these species are raised in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia.
The goal of the Tropical Marine Finfish Standard is to credibly set comprehensive and measurable performance-based requirements that improve environmental performance, and help farmers, workers, and local communities, while allowing the industry to remain economically viable.
To take part in the public consultation, visit our website.
For direct queries to WWF, please contact Dr Geoffrey Muldoon.