ASC LAUNCHES NEW STANDARDS
ASC Launches New Standards for Tropical Marine Finfish, Flat Fish and Revision to Pangasius Standard. To meet the growing market demand for Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified seafood, the organisation has had to develop new standards. Last year saw the publication the Sea Bass, Sea Bream and Meagre (SBSB)* Standard on July 1, 2019, ASC has released standards for Flatfish (FF)* and Tropical Marine Fish (TMFF)*.
*See Footnote for applicable list of species.
The two new standards add 16 genera to the ASC programme, allowing for the transparent, third-party certification an even greater number of species produced and consumed around the world.
“The addition of these two new standards represents the diversity and wide reach of the growing ASC programme,” said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. “Aquaculture is a truly global industry, and to fulfil our mission to drive up fish farming standards worldwide our standards must reflect the variety of species produced and enjoyed in different regions.”
Estimating up to date global production figures for the species covered within the standards and their destination markets is not easy. Almost all (85%) of SBSB production occurs in the Mediterranean with Greece (127,000t) and Turkey (85,000t) accounting for about half of this. Other Mediterranean producing countries include Croatia, Egypt, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. Additionally, around 65,000t of silver seabream is farmed in Japan.
Key consuming markets for SBSB in Europe are Germany, UK, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. These are all important markets for ASC and represented strong demand for this standard. North America and Japan are both increasingly important markets for these species and growing markets for the ASC that are also asking for these species.
In 2018 total tropical marine finfish farmed production accounted for almost 3.7 million tonnes of global aquaculture production (FAO, SOFIA; 2018). In 2016, FAO aquaculture production information for the species covered under this standard accounted for about 1.5 million tonnes. Farming for these species is dispersed throughout tropical and subtropical Asia and Australasia and important production occurs in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Domestic consumption and inter-regional trade are both important market considerations behind the development of the TMFF standard and request from key consuming markets where ASC is becoming increasingly embedded, including China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, were integrated to the rationale for the creation of this standard. Many of the species covered by this standard are traded live and are featured in many retail chains and restaurants in the region. This is not the only aspect of trade however and in the ever-increasingly sophisticated distribution and retailing in the region chilled, pre-packed and frozen products are common.
Farming production for the species covered under the flatfish standard is estimated at around 175 – 200,000 tonnes (FAO, 2016 and various national statistics). The majority (91%) of production occurs in Korea and China, with most of the remaining production taking place in Spain, Portugal and Japan (7%). Flatfish are an important part of the live-fish retail trade in China and Korea and are high-end fresh fish in Southern Europe and Japan.
How Does ASC Develop New Standards?
Key to developing any new ASC standard is the engagement of a broad range of stakeholders with an interest in the farming of the species covered. This diversity includes farmers, farming associations, NGOs, academics, supply chain companies, retailers and food service companies. All stages of the development process are featured on our website from the original publication of our intent to develop the standard, a consultation period on the Terms of Reference (TOR) and scope of the standard through to the publication of public consultation draft and the resulting stakeholder comments. All of these processes intersect the ASC’s two multi-stakeholder governance chambers, the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and the Supervisory Board. These guide the technical development of the content and its final approval respectively.
To develop the draft content for all three standards, material was drawn from existing standards; but the content was significantly informed and subsequently modified as a result of the site visits undertaken with key stakeholders and public consultation rounds. As with all ASC standards, both environmental and social impacts are addressed. Requirements include the traceable sourcing of fingerlings and seed-stock from hatcheries with documented biosecurity and fish health protocols; the recording of greenhouse gas emissions and a strategy to reduce them over time; biodiversity impact assessments produced focusing on vulnerable or economically important species in the area around the farm; and the gradual reduction in the use of marine ingredients in feed.
Site visits for Sea Bass, Sea Bream, and Meagre were conducted during the early part of 2017 in Greece, Spain, Croatia, Turkey, and Japan, helpfully assisted by WWF offices in Greece, Croatia and Japan. During these visits draft audit manuals were piloted to identify any gaps between the existing standards content and farming practices and performance of the new species. The resulting draft standards were then the subject of two public comment periods (which follows ASC’s Standard Setting protocol; which is compliant with ISEAL’s Standards Setting Code v6.0). During the public consultation further stakeholder outreach was done through video and conference calls between WWF Greece and WWF Croatia and the rest of the WWF Europe Network and with in-person meetings between WWF Japan and interested Japanese stakeholders to solicit feedback into the consultation process.
Mediterranean producers who helpfully participated included: Andromeda Group, Nireus, Cromaris, Sürsan and Selonda. The Ehime Prefecture Fishery Association— which brought together a group of Japanese producers— also participated.
The development of the TMFF standard has had a longer history. In 2013 WWF Indonesia and the WWF Coral Triangle Programme initiated a stakeholder dialogue to develop a standard for Grouper, Snapper and Barrumundi. In late 2016 the ASC was formerly requested to finalise the standard’s development and the scope of species covered was expanded (see Endnote iii). The ASC undertook two sixty-day public consultation rounds initiated in May 2017 and August 2017 that were compliant with ISEAL’s Standards Setting Code v6.0.
The stakeholder meetings brought a diverse group together from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, United States and Vietnam, all with an interest to develop a standard that reduced the environmental and social consequences of current production methods. Representatives from the public sector (Department of Fisheries Penang, Department of Fisheries Pulau Sayak, Department of Fisheries Singapore, DG Aquaculture for Indonesia, Nha Trang University, Curtain University), the producer sector (Stanton Emms, GenoMar, Aquagrow Corporation, The Malaysian Fish Farmers Association, Penang Aquaculture Association, Palawan Aquaculture Corporation, Vinh Hoan, Aqua Ceria Group, Australis, Aquaculture Technologies Asia, Philipps Seafood, Baramundi Asia, Fin Fisher Pte, Australian Baramundi Farmers Association) and NGOs (WWF Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, US and the Coral Triangle Global Initiative).
In 2016 the ASC initiated a standard development process for the commercially farmed flatfish species in accordance with ISEAL’s Standard Setting Code. A TOR was published for comment in April 2017 and public consultations held in May and August the same year. The development of the standard followed a similar approach as undertaken for SBSB. Extensive pilot activities were undertaken in key producing regions as indicated below. Both in China and in Korea access to production and technical expertise was facilitated by CAPPMA and the Jeju Island flatfish producers association. CAPPMA hosts a Turbot Commission within its governance, providing a conduit for the collective voice for the many thousands of turbot farmers in China.
Over the course of six rounds of public consultation for the three standards the ASC received substantial and substantive comments from stakeholders. In total 21 organisations submitted comments about 86 different indicators. Stakeholders main concerns related to the following four Principles within the standard:
Principle 2: Conserve natural habitat, local biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
Principle 3: Protect the health and genetic integrity of wild populations
Principle 4: Use resources in an environmentally efficient and responsible manner
Principle 5: Manage disease and parasites in an environmentally responsible manner
And related to the following metric indicators for:
Forage Fish Dependency Ratio (FFDR)
Antibiotic and anti-parasiticide treatments
Both standards released today now enter a six-month effective period; which allows time for all certification documents and processes to be developed by ASC’s accredited certification companies. During this time, farms can read the newly released standard and use the resources on the ASC website to review the requirements necessary to become certified and find a qualified certification company to perform audits to the new standard at the completion of the six-month effective period. It may be possible for certification companies to assess farms prior to the end of the effective period if they can field qualified auditors to undertake the assessments and have completed all administrative arrangements for the internal management of the certification processes.
New Requirements for the ASC Pangasius Standard
Version 1.2 of the ASC Pangasius Standard was also concurrently released today. The new version includes revisions that were finalised after multiple rounds of public consultations and will provide for increased protection of wetlands near pangasius farms, requirements to include fish meal and fish oil from IFFO RS certified sites or fisheries with lower FishSource scores (FS) and the disclosure of transgenic plant and plant-derived ingredients in feed. The latest revision will also add additional requirements regarding antibiotics, as farms will have to verify the total amount of each antibiotic active ingredient used per tonne of fish produced per year and of the frequency of treatments. As with all ASC standards, farms are not allowed to use any antibiotics on the World Health Organizations list of medicines critically important to human health.
Just as with the two new standards release today (01.07.2019), the pangasius standard will also have a six-month effective period which will end on December 26, 2019 when farms will begin to be audited against the updated version of the ASC Pangasius Standard.
* – Scope of the SBSB, FF, TMFF standards applies to the following genera & species:
i – The scope of the SBSB Standard applies to all species belonging to the genera: Dicentrarchus, Sparus, Pagrus and Argyrosomus.
Common cultured species for these genera are:
– Dicentrarchus labrax (European seabass)
– Sparus aurata (gilthead seabream)
– Pagrus pagrus (Red Porgy)
– Pagrus major (Red Seabream)
– Pagrus auratus (Silver Seabream)
– Argyrosomus regius (Meagre)
ii – The scope of the FF Standard applies to all species belonging to the genera: Paralichthys, Scophthalmus, and Hippoglossus.
Common cultured species for these genera are:
- Paralichthys olivaceus (Olive Flounder)
- Paralichthys americanus (Winter Flounder)
- Paralichthys lethostigma (Southern Flounder)
- Scophthalmus maximus (Turbot)
- Hippoglossus (Atlantic Halibut)
iii – The ASC Tropical Marine Finfish (TMFF) Standard is applicable to Groupers (species in the genera Epinephelus, Cromileptus, Plectropomus and Cephalophis), Snappers (species in the genera Lutjanus and Ocyurus), Pompano (species in the genus Trachinotus), Barramundi (species in the genus Lates) and Croaker (species in the genus Larimichthys) and in all regions globally where these fish are cultured.
Common cultured species for these genera are:
Epinephelus polyphekadion – Camouflage Grouper
Epinephelus fuscoguttatus – Brown Marbled Grouper
Epinephelus akaara – Hong Kong grouper
Epinephelus lanceolatus – Giant Grouper
Epinephelus chlorostigma – Brownspotted grouper
Epinephelus malabaricus – Malabar grouper
Epinephelus coioides – Orange-spotted grouper
Plectropomus oligacanthus – Highfin coral grouper
Plectropomus melanoleucus – Blacksaddled Coral grouper
Plectropomus maculatus – Bar-cheeked Trout (Spotted Coralgrouper)
Plectropomus laevis – Blacksaddled Coralgrouper
Plectropomus leopardus – Leopard Coralgrouper
Cromileptes altivelis – Humpback Grouper
Cephalopholis miniata – Coral Hind
Epinephelus corallicola– Coral Rockcod
Trachinotus carolinus – Florida pompano
Trachinotus goodei – Palometa
Trachinotus falcatus – Permit
Lutjanus stellatus – Star snapper
Lutjanus russellii – Russell’s snapper
Lutjanus johnii – John’s snapper
Lutjanus rivulatus – Blubberlip snapper
Lutjanus monostigma – One-spot snapper
Lutjanus erythropterus – Crimson snapper
Lutjanus argentimaculatus – Mangrove red snapper
Lutjanus sebae – Emperor red snapper
Lutjanus argentiventris – Yellow snapper
Lutjanus goldiei Papuan – black snapper
Ocyurus chrysurus – Yellowtail snapper
Trachinotus blochii – Snubnose pompano
Trachinotus ovatus – Pompano
Lates niloticus – Nile perch
Lates calcarifer – Barramundi