ASC is a global programme that has grown quickly yet organically since it began ten years ago. Another milestone was reached recently: the first mussel farm based in continental Europe to become ASC Certified.
This was achieved by Finisterra SA, a mussel farming company operating offshore the Atlantic coast of Sagres, at the Southwestern tip of Portugal. The farm is also the first of any species to achieve certification in Portugal.
Seafood is of great importance to Portugal, which ranks as the fourth highest consumer of fish per capita worldwide (behind Japan, Iceland and the Faroe Islands). This certification means that soon European consumers will be able to purchase mussels that were produced responsibly and sustainably nearby in Europe.
“The ASC Standards are an ideal framework for Finisterra SA’s values and its commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility and the biodiversity of the Mar de Sagres” said Manuel Pinto Ribeiro, Finisterra´s Executive Chairman. “The process and the work required to achieve ASC Certification reinforced our corporate values and operational practices and led us to achieve significant progress in areas like energy efficiency, engagement with local communities and our waste management processes.”
“As Portugal’s aquaculture industry starts to grow, organisations like Finisterra SA are leading the way and setting an example for others to follow,” said Marcos Moya, ASC Market Development Manager. “Thanks to the good and responsible practices that were already implemented by Finisterra SA, and the quality of its professional team, the application of the ASC requirements has gone very smoothly. We applaud the effort and congratulate the team.”
Manuel Pinto Ribeiro went on to explain why he chose Sagres to settle Finisterra in 2010: “Sagres has been considered sacred since the Celts, so much so that its name derives from the Latin word for Sacred. It’s the place where land ends and the sea begins. At the tip of Portugal’s southwestern coast, continental Europe does not get any further into the Atlantic Ocean than this.
“With its pure pristine waters, almost untouched by human pollution, its strong oceanic currents and powerful waves crushing against the rocky coastline, it is the perfect location to farm mussels, a species that is indigenous to this region. These are the fundamental reasons why we decided to settle Finisterra in Sagres.”
Finisterra SA has also achieved the ASC Chain of Custody Certification, which means it can process and package ASC certified products. Chain of Custody certification is required all along the supply chain from farm to shop, and requires that ASC certified products are clearly labelled and kept separated from non-certified products, giving consumers confidence that ASC labelled products only contain responsibly and sustainably farmed seafood.
Mussels are considered a very well-suited species to farm because of their relatively simple needs and ability to ‘filter feed’ from sea water. But as with all farming, if it’s not done responsibly mussel farming can have negative environmental and social impacts. The ASC Bivalve Standard covers mussel farming as well as all other bivalves, such as oysters and clams, and ensures certified farms minimise these impacts. For more information on some of the potential impacts of farming bivalves, read our recent blog on the subject.