UTRECHT, 20 February, 2013 – The Freshwater Trout Aquaculture Dialogue has handed over the global freshwater trout standards to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). This is the sixth standard ASC has received and joins those for tilapia, pangasius, bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams, scallops), abalone and salmon. There are currently over 250 tilapia and pangasius products in 10 countries available using the ASC logo.
Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO, is delighted that yet another important milestone has been reached: “…on behalf of ASC I would like to thank the hundreds of dedicated individuals who have participated in the multi-stakeholder dialogues. Their hard work and commitment resulted in this very credible global standard for responsible trout farming. We are now eager to move forward with the pilot testing shortly and to launching ASC certified farmed responsibly trout into the market in 2013.” There has been rapid uptake by the market to use certified products with the ASC logo and eager anticipation for new species as they emerge.
ASC Trout Standard warmly welcomed by the market
The ASC freshwater trout standard is keenly anticipated by the market. A clear indicator of the enthusiastic response it has received is reflected in the warm welcome by Gottfried-Friedrichs, Germany’s leading quality seafood brand. “FRIEDRICHS is looking forward to the ASC-certification of trout farms later this year” said Marketing manager Kathrin Runge.“We are preparing for the certification with of our suppliers and internally and want to launch ASC-certified trout in the European market as soon as possible.”
The confidence in the ASC and the trout standard is similarly strong from the farming sector. Brian Thomsen, Director of The Danish Aquaculture Organisation, has been quick to express his committment: “We are delighted to learn that the global standards for responsible farming of freshwater trout has passed yet another historical milestone with the hand-over to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Our fish farmers and processing companies are set to go. We believe there is a strong and growing demand for responsibly farmed fish and we remain committed to spearhead this development to the benefit of consumers and society.”
Trout farming widespread around the world
Freshwater trout farming is one of the oldest forms of aquaculture in the world. From its North-American origin, trout has been introduced to more than 82 countries worldwide. In Europa trout is mainly farmed in France, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Turkey, UK and Germany, while outside Europe, large production takes place in USA, Iran and Chile. For ASC, this means new production territories besides Asia and South America. Worldwide production of freshwater trout is estimated at 750.000-800.000 tonnes and is steadily growing. A variety of production systems are used ranging from cages in lakes, to pond culture and flow-through and recirculation systems. Trout are marketed as whole fish, fillets and various smoked and canned products. Farming of trout can have negative impacts on the environment and society and the ASC standards addresses issues such as; disease prevention, minimizing the outflow of nutrients from the farm, responsible use of water and preventing escapes.
“Considering half of the seafood we eat comes from a farm, and consumer demand is only increasing, it is imperative to have a credible aquaculture standards that will help protect the world’s aquatic environments and the people who depend on them for generations to come,” said Jose Villalon, VP of Aquaculture at World Wildlife Fund and Chairman of the ASC Board. “Based on its rigorous development and implementation processes that convene voices from across the value chain, I’m confident the ASC freshwater trout standard will achieve that vision.”
Credible global standards through multi-stakeholder Dialogues
The Freshwater Trout Aquaculture Dialogue began in 2008 and was one of eight similar processes for internationally traded farmed seafood that had significant environmental and social impacts. They were facilitated by WWF. The Dialogues were comprehensive multi-stakeholder processes that sought innovative approaches to address industry impacts. The trout Dialogue involved farmers, conservationists, scientists, seafood buyers, processors, government officials and other interested stakeholders. Margreet van Vilsteren, Project Manager Sustainable Seafood North Sea Foundation (Stichting de Noordzee) and member of the Trout Dialogues: “The North Sea Foundation has gladly contributed to the development of the ASC standard for trout. We now welcome it as a major step towards responsible aquaculture that promotes a sustainable fish feed industry and actively support its promotion through the Seafood Guide, which is widely used by consumers.”.
Next steps for the trout and other programmes
Preparation for ASC’s pilot testing of the draft Trout Audit Manual (a guiding document for farms and auditors) is underway and will start over the coming weeks in collaboration with producers globally. The results from the pilots will be fed into the final Trout Audit Manual. Certifiers that want to perform audits must first comply with a set certification procedures independently administered by Accreditation Services International to demonstrate their competence. All auditors must also pass a training course focused on the trout standard and this will be scheduled shortly after the Audit Manual has been finalised. ASC certified trout is expected to be available in the market before the end of 2013.
Other seafood species will also shortly be ASC-certified. ASC certified salmon products are expected in 2013 and these products will be followed by market launches for certified clams, mussels, scallops, oysters and abalone. The ASC anticipates delivery of the shrimp standard by mid 2013, and the combined standard for seriola and cobia is expected to be finalised before the year end. Certified volumes for the latter three species can be expected in 2014.