Data collection in relation to ASC’s farm-focused KDE project
April 2019 update to IT companies
ASC is frequently contacted by information technology (IT) companies offering seafood tracking software or enquiring on what data ASC collects and how this data is collected. Whilst ASC cannot recommend any specific supplier, the purpose of this page is to provide IT companies with an insight into ASC’s latest data usage and policies.
As part of the certification and assurance processes, ASC collects a substantial amount of data which increases with the ongoing expansion of the programme and due to the fact that some data is species specific. The data is collected through auditing requirements, the audit reporting process, and is also submitted directly to us by partners.
The ‘metrics’ and the various types of data collected are under constant review and will change in time. It is our intention to update this webpage, specifically the data lists, but don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries.
We distinguish two sets of data:
- The farm-specific data required under the current certification process, and part of the Aligned Standard process (~220 data elements across all species; total per species is very much species-dependent). This data is mainly collected during audits, but also through direct reporting by farms. The various metrics can be found in the different standards [9 standards (+1 joint ASC/MSC Seaweed Standard) at present]. These include a range of environmental and social performance indicators and metrics A provisional list of metrics can be found here.
- The farm traceability data as part of the Key Data Elements (KDE) project. You can find more information on the KDE project here.
Data collection and format of data
ASC works with both with small and large organisations. While ASC would prefer automated sharing of data, both large and small organisations tend to use reporting formats such as Excel rather than transfer data digitally. Despite being IT savvy, some large companies have also indicated their preference not to use Application Programming Interfaces. ASC is fully aware of the restrictions and issues related to the use of Excel data transfers. Notwithstanding, as an organisation we have to reconcile the latter with all of our partners’ IT capabilities. We therefore expect that any software used will have the ability to handle Excel sheets. The ASC standards are based on the metric system (SI units). It is therefore essential that data is either reported accordingly or appropriate conversion is embedded in the IT solution.
Starting point of the KDE project
The starting point of many seafood tracking software products is the harvest stage. While this may be an ‘obvious’ consideration for wild-catch fish products, for aquaculture the initial stocking of the pond, cage or line is the first critical event. ASC considers the farm is not the first point in the supply chain, as prior inputs to the farm such as feed and juveniles and other inputs may also be tracked.”.
ASC is often invited to attend software demonstrations, many of which have interesting specificities, particularly those that track ‘more’ than solely a whole fish/lobster from harvesting point, for example. We are interested in traceability tools which can overcome issues of partial harvesting or grading at farm level, are able to track seafood produced or processed in a continuous fashion and where batches are mixed (e.g. value-added processes).
ASC notes the development of Blockchain as an interesting new technology. While it is a promising technology for a variety of reasons, it also has some limitations and ASC currently doesn’t work with Blockchain. ASC however will periodically reconsider its position in light of the maturation of the technology.
Geographic Information System (GIS):
ASC is looking at developing a GIS portal to accurately display spatial information at farm level. The first step is to develop guidelines for our clients on how to capture spatial location data more accurately so that it can be used for analysis in the portal. These guidelines are being drafted, and are about to be tested by means of a pilot.
The main goals of the GIS portal are to support monitoring & evaluation by displaying visual development of the farms over time, as well as calculating compliance with some environmental indicators (e.g. spatial relation to protected area’s, certain types of vegetation, etc.) that are required by the standards. Another goal that the GIS portal can serve is to support the program assurance and KDE project by displaying the unique production unit reference codes to the corresponding pond/tank/nets.
The guidelines and required GIS data collection information will be provided shortly and, in the meantime, our program assurance has written an article validating the importance of collecting accurate spatial data and the release of a tool that supports this. The article can be accessed through the following link: https://www.asc-aqua.org/new-tool-helps-provide-accurate-farm-location-information/
Due to evolving legislation in various parts of the world, ASC’s data policies and contractual obligations are constantly being reviewed and a revised Data Policy will be published on this webpage soon. As as part of the consultation on the ASC Aligned standard, ASC is currently considering to introduce a statement along the lines of:
“ As part of the certification process, data will be collected and sometimes shared publicly. It is also used for research and product integrity purposes. Further information on data sharing and ownership can be found in the CAR and other data related policy documents. These can be found on our website (link)”. Any data requirements will be specified in the Certification requirements.
ASC recognises that there is a balance between data protection and data access, along with a need to remain consistent with the principles of transparency embedded in the ASC Programme’s standards and ethos.
A critical and recurring aspect of Programme Assurance is the need to have fast and unrestricted access to data (for instance, for Vietnamese shrimp farms, we would require unrestricted access to the data without prior notice). We expect the data to be located on the ASC IT platform, but this could differ in some cases.