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This was the message delivered by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), following the latest draft standard of the ASC feed criteria, which would allow farms another 10 years to meet this requirement, despite a stipulation when the standards were released, in 2009, stating that salmon, shrimp, tilapia, abalone, trout and pangasius farms would need to source all marine ingredients in their feed from MSC certified fisheries within five years of ASC certification.

“ASC has established the most credible and effective standards to ensure that aquaculture is environmentally and socially responsible,” said Dr Aaron McNevin, director of aquaculture for WWF’s Sustainable Food program. “With its draft feed standard, ASC has a significant opportunity to improve the way it measures and manages the environmental impacts of feed. ASC should reaffirm its support for MSC certified feed in order to protect wild fish stocks.”

WWF was a founding member of ASC and MSC, but according to a new report on ocean health by the organisation the oceans’ vertebrate populations declined by 49 per cent between 1970 and 2012, driven in large part by overfishing for human consumption and aquaculture. According to a World Bank report, approximately one-fifth of all fish harvested from the oceans is used to produce fish meal and oil, most of which—about 60 per cent of fish meal and 80 per cent of oil—are fed to farmed fish.

“By requiring reduction fisheries to be MSC certified, ASC can most effectively protect biodiversity in our oceans,” continued Dr McNevin. “Feed companies and the aquaculture industry have had five years to build a sustainable, MSC certified supply of marine feed ingredients. It’s time for progress, not further delay. We can’t kick this can down the road any longer.”

WWF also advised ASC to work with agriculture experts and those involved in other commodity roundtables to ensure credible criteria are developed for soy, corn, palm oil and other terrestrial crops used in feed.

ASC is the only aquaculture certification scheme that is a member of the ISEAL Alliance, an international body that has established a code for the development of credible sustainability standards. Among ISEAL’s requirements for standards development, certifications must demonstrate how issues or concerns raised in public comment phases have been addressed in the revisions of each standard.