Today, the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue has handed over the global salmon standard for responsible farming to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Earlier this year the ASC launched both the Tilapia and Pangasius standards and their consumer facing logo.
Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC, has been quick to recognise the broad participation in the development of this standard. “Without the incredible commitment of the many 100s of individuals, NGOs, commercial companies and other organisations, who worked so diligently for over six years to conclude this standard, this milestone would never have been achieved,” he says. “The funding support of the Packard Foundation3 and of the coordination work of WWF have been pivotal in ensuring that such broad consensus for the standard’s content was developed by the Dialogue participants.”
The ASC will soon start with pilot farm audits; global interest has been expressed for these in Chile, Norway, British Columbia, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Ninnes explains “that these pilots allow the certification program for salmon to be tested in a practical way and that this will ensure the smooth running of the program into the future on launch. It also gives salmon farms an opportunity to understand how their current practices match up against the standard.” The first ASC certified products for ‘responsibly farmed’ salmon are expected in the market in early 2013.
The ASC standard aim to address the key negative environmental and social impacts of salmon farming associated with: sourcing of feed ingredients, disease transmission between farms and into wild salmon populations, controlling escapes into the wild, use of therapeutics and anti-biotics, site impacts, the presence of GMO products in feed and labour issues on farms. Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC: “Salmon farming has grown significantly in volume since 2000 and now over 1.5 million metric tonnes are farmed each year. Farmed salmon is a well-known and respected product by chefs and consumers. It has a great reputation, but minimizing the associated environmental and social footprint will be crucial in maintaining this important market position into the future. Meeting the requirements enshrined in the ASC standard and communicating this into the market through the use of our on-product logo will demonstrate clearly to buyers that this salmon was produced in a responsible manner.”
On completion of the pilot audits the results will be incorporated into the final version of the Audit Manual that will guide certifiers and farmers in how the standard should be applied. Before certifiers can formally undertake audits their staff will be trained in the application of the standard and their companies must successfully conclude the third party accreditation process administered through Accreditation Services International (ASI). Farms from all corners of the world, from Norway to Scotland and from Chile to Australia and New Zealand, have shown great interest in obtaining recognition through ASC’s certification program.