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. ASC certified shrimp cannot be treated with antibiotics or given feed containing medicine. Producers need to manage farms in such a way that shrimp survival rates are high.
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.