Transparency is deeply embedded in the ASC programme, its certification process and standards. The many public disclosures and consultations required by the programme make it one of the key characteristics setting it apart from other ecolabels.
Both transparency and stakeholder engagement are at the heart of everything ASC does. From its inception with the Aquaculture Dialogues, involving diverse stakeholders including scientists, NGOs, and farmers, ASC has involved both industry stakeholders and the public in the development of all its standards as well as all audit reports against these standards. Standards, audit reports, and much more are published on the ASC website, allowing anyone to access valuable data about the industry. ASC-certified farms must also sometimes participate in joint research efforts and share data with stakeholders.
The TAPAS project (Tools for Assessment and Planning of Aquaculture Sustainability) is an EU Horizon 2020 project, with 15 consortium members including research institutions, SMEs and regulators. The project aims to help EU member states increase their aquaculture production by developing a range of recommendations and modelling tools. The project uses a case study approach across both freshwater and marine production systems, from carp ponds in Hungary to Norwegian salmon.
ASC has been engaged with the project to help make data from its certification processes (specifically data submissions from salmon farms) available to researchers. As a result of its involvement, ASC has developed a database of salmon farm data on a range of areas, such as therapeutant use, feed efficiency, and benthic impacts. The project started in October 2016 and is due to finish in February 2020.