ASC’s Feed Standard tackles one of the biggest potential impacts of aquaculture, the production of feed, and does so in a holistic way by requiring responsible sourcing for all major feed ingredients.
It is the result of years of development by the Feed Steering Committee: a diverse group of experts comprising feed producers, retailers, NGOs, farmers, and other stakeholders. It requires that feed mills meet strict environmental and social requirements; source ingredients from socially responsible suppliers; and use environmentally responsible raw materials. In doing so, issues in both the supply chain and at raw material level are addressed. Requirements on reporting of performance will also improve the transparency of the industry, reward environmental sustainability, and assist future research into responsible feed.
- Feed mills
The Feed Standard takes the ASC’s approach to responsible aquaculture and extends it to the feed mills that manufacture aquafeed, as well as the suppliers of their ingredients. These mills will be the facilities audited against the standard, but they and farms will be given time to ensure their supply chains meet ASC requirements. The Standard will also incentivise more feed mills to work towards certification to meet growing demand from ASC farms.
- Marine ingredients
There has been much debate about the impact of the marine ingredients used by fish farms. ASC’s Feed Standard makes clear that while certified mills must source increasing levels of environmentally sustainable ingredients, marine ingredients in fact make up a minority of feed ingredients, with around 75% of global aquafeed ingredients derived from agriculture – crops like soy, wheat and rice. These have their own impacts, notably deforestation and land conversion, which are often overlooked in debates about the industry.
The Feed Standard uses an improvement model for marine ingredients which requires feed mills to source from more sustainable fisheries over time. MarinTrust and MSC, both full members of the ISEAL Alliance, play a crucial role in this mechanism and form the key steppingstones for improvement. Intermediate steps are recognised FIP programmes leading up to each scheme representatively. The model offers a unique opportunity for feed mills to work together with their fish meal and fish oil suppliers to meet the increasing requirements over time. Ultimately, the major volume of marine ingredients needs to be derived from MSC fisheries.
- Terrestrial Plant ingredients
For plant-based ingredients, as with marine based, mills will have to record and report all ingredients that make up over 1% of a feed and will need to take steps to ensure they have been responsibly sourced. Crucially, they will have to assess the risk of a particular ingredient contributing towards deforestation or land conversion and must commit to transitioning to a supply chain free from these key negative impacts.
- Greenhouse Gas Emission, Energy and Water use
As a source of protein, aquaculture has one of the lowest carbon footprints, but it is important that the industry monitors and works to reduce its footprint along the entire supply chain. ASC certified feed mills will have to record and report their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; and work to improve energy efficiency, use of renewables, and water usage.
- Social responsibility
As well as being environmentally responsible, mills must also ensure they and their suppliers are socially responsible. For instance, independent auditors must verify that mills are not using forced or child labour, pay and treat their staff fairly, and must not discriminate on any grounds. They must also be responsible neighbours, communicating proactively with their local communities. Certified feed mills are required to conduct Due Diligence on their supply chains to adhere to these principles as well, ensuring an impact in areas where the risk of these issues are more prevalent.
The Feed Standard was launched on 15 June 2021 and is currently in an ‘effective period’, allowing auditors, feed manufacturers and their suppliers to familiarise themselves with the Standard and prepare for certification. Following the release of the Feed CAR & RUoC on July 14th 2022 there will be a 6 month implementation time period which means the Standard and assurance documents will become effective on January 14th 2023 and feed mills will become eligible for certification. Farms will then have 24 months to switch to ASC compliant feed in order to continue meeting the ASC Farm Standards.
Please see the Feed standard documentation for further information on certification documentation and timelines.
In accordance with the ISEAL Standard Setting Code, ASC must review the ASC Feed standard by 2027 at the latest (5 years after the effective date). The review of the ASC Feed Standard will tentatively start in 2024/2025.