After an operational review, the ASC determined that improvements would be made to feed standards for salmon.

ASC tightens salmon feed standards after review

Improvements to the requirements for salmon feed and restrictions on the use of antibiotics are among changes brought in by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council following its review of certification standards for salmon, tilapia and pangasius.

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The ASC aims to measurably improve the environmental and social performance of aquaculture producers through the use of metrics-based farm performance standards. Each farm standard undergoes periodic review to ensure its continued effectiveness and, during the most recent review period that began in 2015, it was determined that improvements would be made to the ASC standards for pangasius, tilapia and salmon.

The operational review ensures the continued efficacy of the standards and is focused on areas where the performance of a standard is not as anticipated during the Aquaculture Dialogues, or may not deliver on the intent as set out in ASC's Theory of Change.

The most recent updates include feedback from three rounds of public comment, improvements to the requirements for salmon feed and new restrictions on the use of antibiotics. The changes have also been strengthened and improved in response to feedback received on their operational impact and effectiveness since their initial publication.

Consumer confidence

Meanwhile, the ASC has announced it has entered the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) Benchmark Process. The GSSI benchmark is based on United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) guidelines for the ecolabelling of fish and fishery products. GSSI offers the market a pre-competitive approach to provide clarity on seafood certification and ensure consumer confidence.

Programmes are benchmarked through performance indicators for governance, operational management, supply chain traceability and auditing, and were developed in consultation with many stakeholders including environmental NGOs, independent experts and intergovernmental organisations.

"I am pleased that the ASC is moving forward with this project that will allow us to demonstrate the credibility of the standards developed through the Aquaculture Dialogues," said Chris Ninnes, chief execuitve of ASC. "We also look forward to the future inclusion of social indicators within the GSSI benchmark. Social indicators account for up to 40 per cent of the content of an ASC standard and we hope to see the further promotion of these aspects in  benchmarked programmes in response to the interest of corporate seafood buyers globally."

The ASC standard goes well beyond the criteria set by GSSI. The programme was developed according to UN FAO Guidelines and is the only aquaculture certification scheme to be recognised as a full member of the ISEAL Alliance, which requires inclusive and transparent standard setting.