ASC has today (August 3, 2020) launched two public consultations, allowing stakeholders and consumers to have their say on important developments for the programme.
The consultations are seeking feedback on two separate issues.
New requirements for Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)
The first is on a new module of proposed interim requirements that can be used to audit Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS). While the vast majority of fish farms are currently open or semi-closed – such as sea cages or ponds, a growing number of farms are closed systems – meaning they can be located on land.
These RAS farms have different impacts from more traditional farms – particularly when it comes to water and energy use, for example – and it is important that these impacts are fully investigated during ASC audits. The proposed interim requirements aim to achieve this with indicators that cover water usage, water disposal, water treatment, and energy use for both fresh and saltwater systems.
“RAS farms are still in the minority but it’s an area of rapid growth, and many of these farms want to demonstrate their responsibility with ASC certification,” said Kathrin Steinberg, who leads the RAS Module project. “The aquaculture industry is always innovating and at ASC we are always reviewing and adapting our requirements to reflect this. These new RAS requirements will ensure that these farms are audited based on the specific impacts that this type of farming can have.”
The requirements are interim because the upcoming aligned Farm Standard, which will be applicable to all ASC farms and species, will also include specific RAS requirements.
Review of Certification and Accreditation Requirements (CAR)
The second consultation is about a review of the ASC’s Certification and Accreditation Requirements (CAR). Whereas the ASC farm standards set out what the ASC’s requirements are for responsible aquaculture, the CAR tells certification bodies how these requirements should be audited and interpreted. This important document helps to ensure that the evaluation of ASC standards is conducted consistently and thoroughly on all certified farms around the world.
The new version of the CAR (v2.3) includes a number of updates, aiming to strengthen how the ASC standards are applied with additions covering sampling and testing, traceability evaluation, remote auditing, and unannounced audits. It has also been restructured to ‘follow’ the entire certification process.
“One of the reasons ASC is such a robust programme is because the CAR ensures that our standards are implemented consistently,” said Efrain Calderon, who is leading the CAR project. “The newly structured CAR maintains this while also strengthening many aspects, particularly in the areas which provide assurance in the stringency of the programme.”
Public consultation and transparency are at the heart of ASC’s mission to improve aquaculture. All ASC standards are developed by multi-stakeholder groups of NGOs, industry experts, farmers, and academics, and are all subject to public consultation. All farm audits are also open to public consultation, with local communities invited to have their say.
To further explain these changes, ASC is also organising webinars on August 19, setting out the new documents. Anyone can attend these webinars by registering, either on the CAR Review page or the RAS Module page of the ASC website.