Seabass, seabream and meagre farming has been associated with a number of environmental impacts such as fish escapes, negative impacts on biodiversity, birds and sea mammals, the use of wild fish as ingredient in feed, the use of antibiotics and other chemicals, impacts on water quality and the seabed.

Note: Seabass, seabream, and meagre farms will be able to be audited against the ASC standard  from 18 March 2019 onwards.

The ASC’s Seabass, Seabream and Meagre Standard (launched on September 20, 2018) is applicable to all species in the genera Dicentrarcus, Sparus, Pagrus and Argyrosomus and in all regions (e.g. in the Mediterranean Sea and Pacific) where these fish are cultured in sea-cages, from hatchery to grow-out stages.

Beyond the transparency and third-party auditing requirements inherent to the ASC certification programme, here’s what makes ASC certified seabass, seabream and/or meagre a responsible choice, helping you to care for the natural environment and support local communities:

  • Biodiversity

ASC certified seabass, seabream and/or meagre farms minimise impacts on the local ecosystem in a number of ways, such as the development and implementation of an impact assessment to protect key wild species and sensitive habitats in the proximity of the farm, protection of the ecological quality of the seabed, ensuring farms are not sited in High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA) and minimising fish escapes to an absolute minimum. Lethal action against predators/wildlife on the farm is prohibited, so is the use of submerged acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs).

  • Feed

ASC certification requires seabass, seabream and/or meagre farms to adhere to strict limits to minimise the use of wild fish as an ingredient for feed. In addition, the standard requires farms to ensure full traceability back to a responsibly managed source, preferably certified, both for wild fish and other ingredients. Potential use of any GM/transgenic plant raw material in the feed must be documented. The Standard also includes a requirement that 80% within five years (starting September 2018) of all non-marine ingredients (e.g. soy & palm oil) must come from sources certified by an ISEAL Alliance member (e.g. Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil [RSPO], the Sustainable Agriculture Alliance [SAN]…).

  • Pollution

ASC certified seabass, seabream and/or meagre farmers are required to measure at regular intervals various water parameters (phosphorus, dissolved oxygen levels, etc.) and that they remain within set limits. Copper release into the water must be minimised and monitored, and there must be evidence that biological and non-biological waste are either disposed of properly, appropriately stored or recycled.

  • Diseases

ASC certified seabass, seabream and/or meagre farms are required to adhere to rigorous requirements to minimise disease outbreaks. A Fish Health Management Plan (FHMP) detailing steps for biosecurity management must be developed under supervision of a veterinarian and implemented on the farm. Usage of antibiotics before a disease is diagnosed (prophylactic use) is prohibited, so is the use of any therapeutic treatment listed as critically important for human medicine by the World Health Organization (WHO). Several of the Standard’s indicators concern the survival rate of the fish, and the farm must among others demonstrate that it follows a farm-specific mortality-reduction programme with defined annual targets.

  • Energy consumption & Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe)

Recognising the importance of energy consumption in food production systems and the associated climate change challenges, the ASC Seabass, Seabream and Meagre Standard includes several indicators pertaining to energy and GHGe. Notably, ASC-certified farmers need, within two/three years of the initial audit, to carry out an energy use assessment and provide records of annual GHG assessment and reporting; including the GHG emissions of the feed used during the previous growing cycle.

  • Social

ASC certification imposes strict requirements based on the core principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), these include prohibiting the use of child labour or any form of forced labour. All ASC certified farms are safe and equitable working environments where employees earn a decent wage and have regulated working hours. In order to address any broader off-site potential social impacts, producers also need to regularly (and meaningfully) consult local communities and to have effective policies for treating/resolving potential complaints.

Similar requirements apply for suppliers (hatcheries) of seabass, seabream and/or meagre juveniles that are supplied to the ASC certified seabass, seabream and/or meagre farm.

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Date of Publication
September 2018

Seabass, Seabream & Meagre - Standard documents

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