A widely publicised problem with the shrimp farming industry is its impact on local environments – particularly the clearing of mangroves. But it isn’t just the environment that is affected. Poorly managed shrimp farming can have a detrimental effect on local communities.
ASC certified shrimp farms must meet these challenges head on:
ASC certified Shrimp farms minimise impacts on their neighbouring ecosystem in a number of ways, such as partial restoration of lost mangrove forest, the development and implementation of a biodiversity-focused environmental impact assessment (B-EIA) and ensuring farms are not sited in critical habitats. Since shrimp farming often occurs along coastal areas, a permanent coastal barrier must be in place between the farm and the coastline.
ASC certification requires shrimp farms to adhere to strict limits to minimise 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, for wild fish, but also for palm oil and soy.
ASC certified shrimp farms are required to measure water quality parameters (nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen levels, etc.) at regular intervals and remain within set limits. Treatment systems for waste water need to comply with strict requirements. Discharge of sludge is not allowed.
ASC certified shrimp farms must adhere to rigorous requirements to minimise disease outbreaks. A health plan for the shrimp must be developed and implemented on the farm. This plan details steps for biosecurity management, including the use of pathogen-free shrimp larvae for pond stocking. In addition, the use of medicines before a disease is diagnosed (prophylactic use), is prohibited. Shrimp carrying the ASC logo cannot be treated with antibiotics at the farm or given feed containing medicine. Producers need to manage farms in such a way that shrimp survival rates are high.
The use of medications, including antibiotics are restricted under all ASC standards and the use of any antibiotics on the World Health Organization’s list of critically important antimicrobials for human medicine are strictly prohibited on any ASC certified farm. Within the ASC Shrimp Standard, and with the authorisation of a qualified animal health expert who has determined that using antibiotics is unavoidable, a farm may use prescribed antibiotics to address disease. However, such treated shrimp may not go to market using the ASC logo.
Antibiotics are also found as residue in water systems from their use as medicines and at very low levels in the environmental naturally. With advances in technology these residues may be detected at low levels and can sometimes be detected in shrimp when no antibiotics have been used on the farm. Consequently, ASC recognises that ASC labelled shrimp may contain such residues but in all cases these residues must meet the legal requirements of the importing country. When any such traces of antibiotics are identified in the supply chain, due diligence protocols will be undertaken to provide assurances that any such findings are not the consequences of antibiotics use on the farm.
Processing facilities with Chain of Custody certification must also ensure that no antibiotics contaminate ASC certified shrimp during processing and remain segregated from non-certified shrimp throughout. With trace backs, volume reconciliation and the ongoing development of additional assurance protocols including the Key Data Elements programme with MSC, we work to ensure that ASC shrimp using our label have been produced at an ASC certified farm.
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. Certified farms need to consult and engage with local communities to ensure they provide access to vital resources and deal with complaints or conflicts in a proper manner.