There are a number of problems associated with badly managed tilapia farming. Tilapia is very adaptable and can cause problems if escapes are not carefully monitored and controlled. In addition, there are issues of pollution when the water quality is not well managed, which also increases the risk of disease.
These issues are minimised through ASC certification:
ASC certified tilapia farms minimise impacts on the local ecosystem in a number of ways, such as developing and implementing an environmental impact assessment. They work towards protecting the receiving watershed from pollution, and no lethal incidents with endangered species are allowed. Fish escapes must be minimised and trapping devices are installed to recapture any fish that do escape. Farms cannot be built on sites that involved conversion of wetlands (since 1999)
ASC certification requires tilapia 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.
ASC certified tilapia farms are required to measure various water parameters (nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen levels, etc.) at regular intervals and remain within set limits. The farm shouldn’t impact the water quality status of the area it is operating in.
ASC certified tilapia farms must adhere to requirements to minimise disease outbreaks. A fish health management plan must be developed under supervision of a veterinarian and implemented. This plan details the steps for biosecurity management. In addition, the use of medicine before a disease is diagnosed (prophylactic use), is prohibited. A producer can only use approved medicines and all treatments must be disclosed. Mortalities need to be monitored carefully.
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 addition, certified producers liaise directly with communities to solve conflicts and complaints. The local community needs to have access to public land, freshwater and fishing grounds.