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Farms preparing for new ASC standard. There are still weeks to go before audits can be carried out against ASC’s new Seabass, Seabream and Meagre Standard, but farms have already been preparing for certification and arranging audits as soon as possible.

Several audits have now been announced against the latest ASC standard, with the first planned to begin as soon as possible. When the standard was launched in September last year, a six month effective period began, during which producers and auditors could familiarise themselves with the standard. Audits can only take place once this effective period comes to an end – and the first farms to announce their audits are due to do this the very day this happens.

“This latest standard was developed in response to strong stakeholder demand for these species to be certified, and that demand is certainly evident in the growing number of audits we’re seeing scheduled in before the effective period has even ended,” said Dennis Wittmann, Assurance Coordinator at ASC. “We’re delighted that others are as excited by this new standard as we are at ASC.”

The first company to announce audits is SÜRSAN SU ÜRÜNLERİ in Turkey, which has arranged for two farms – both producing seabass and seabream – to be audited by the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) Acoura.

Since then, a number of other farms producing seabass, seabream, and meagre, have announced audits to take place shortly after the effective period is complete in late March and early April. These farms are located in Turkey, Greece, Croatia and Albania.

Production of seabass, seabream and meagre has grown in recent years, particularly in Turkey and Greece, to meet the rising demand for the species in markets such as Japan, the Middle East and North America. These new markets supplement continuing strong demand for the species in Europe.

The new standard is based on a combination of indicators from ASC’s existing multi-stakeholder standards and additional metrics that were developed to address the specific impacts of farming seabass, seabream and meagre. For the new requirements, ASC worked with NGOs and industry partners and completed multiple site visits to countries including Greece, Turkey and Japan to develop unique metrics including prohibitions on the siting of farms near seagrass meadows to protect these important areas from the potential negative impacts of aquaculture.