A farm cultivating seaweed at sea in the Republic of Korea has become the first of its kind to be certified against the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard.
The farm is operated by Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network, based in Gijang County in the Republic of Korea. The farm cultivates wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) at sea, which is dried and processed, and sold for human consumption around the world, including to buyers in China, Japan, the United States, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK.
Gijang is the second producer to be certified against the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard, after Euglena Co in Japan, and is the first farm cultivating at sea to achieve the certification. Wakame is cultivated on ropes at sea, and harvested manually. To achieve certification, the farm has demonstrated a minimal impact on the environment, including local habitats, ecosystems and endangered species. The seaweed is grown from spores produced by the farm, with no reliance on wild harvested seaweed. Wakame cultivated in Gijang is a well-known quality seaweed product in the Korean domestic market.
“We are delighted to achieve ASC-MSC certification to demonstrate our responsible farming practices,” said Minsu Kim from Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network. “Our seaweed is sold to customers around the world, and we want to give them the assurance that our products have been produced with minimal environmental and social impacts.”
“Congratulations to Gijang on achieving ASC-MSC certification,” said Patricia Bianchi, Seaweed Account Manager for ASC and MSC. “The certification confirms the sustainable environmental practices of the operation, and their safeguarding of nearby marine ecosystems, and also ensures the good labour conditions of the hardworking employees, and positive impacts for local communities.
“This certification is an exciting development because it means consumers in Europe and Asia will be able to enjoy the health benefits of seaweed that has been responsibly produced. As seaweed products increase in popularity it will become more important than ever to ensure they are farmed or harvested responsibly, and the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard provides that assurance.”
The certification was marked with a ceremony at the Busan International Fisheries & Seafood Expo in South Korea on Wednesday 6 November. The ceremony was attended by representatives from ASC, MSC, WWF South Korea, the Norwegian Embassy and Ikea.
The certified farm produces Undaria pinnatifida, a popular edible seaweed known as Wakame. Wakame has been farmed for over 1,000 years, and has long been used in a number of popular dishes in Korea and Japan such as Miyeok Guk and miso soups – as well as being the main ingredients of seaweed salads, popular in sushi restaurants around the world. Its low calorie and high nutrient content mean it is considered by many to be a superfood.
Building on each other’s expertise in standard setting and seafood certification, the ASC and MSC worked together for over two years to develop a standard for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible farming and wild harvest of seaweed and algae.
The standard brings together expertise in sustainable fishing and responsible aquaculture, and is the first joint ASC-MSC standard. Launched in February 2018, it will help to protect marine environments and secure the livelihoods of those who depend on them by recognising and rewarding sustainable and socially responsible seaweed and algae production.