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GAA delivers inclusive audit solutions for BAP customers. After successfully implementing accredited remote auditing for farms, hatcheries and feed mills early this year, the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification programme is rolling out remote auditing for the Seafood Processing Standard, Version 5.0 (SPS 5.0). Processing plants now have a pathway to accredited certification through three audit opportunities: onsite audits (full or partial), full remote audits or enhanced remote audits.

To mitigate the supply chain and facility certification disruptions brought on by COVID-19, GAA cooperated with accreditation bodies (ABs) and collaborated with certification bodies (CBs), starting in April, to develop accredited remote auditing procedures for its seafood supply chain standards. Beyond the innovative remote audit methodology applied for the farm, hatchery and feed mill standards, specific new policies, procedures, requirements, timelines, questionnaires, audit checklist guidance and training materials were also developed specifically for processing plant remote auditing.

Risk Assessments:  A facility risk assessment, done by the CB, identifies if an onsite audit is NOT possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. Qualifying facilities will then be offered a remote audit solution, with a further six months extension that could be given to complete the 2020 certification of all facility types, if needed.

Onsite audits: In addition to a full on-site audit, GAA now offers a blended, or partial, solution for on-site auditing in facilities that can accept on-site scrutiny of a BAP auditor. This “blended audit” approach incorporates limited information and communications technology (ICT) usage, combined with onsite visitation by the lead auditor. This may be a good fit for processing facilities that require Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarking.

Full remote audits: As of Oct. 2, 2020, BAP has conducted 324 remote audits (214 farms, 68 hatcheries, 36 feed mills and six processing plant pilot projects), the majority of which were done in Southeast Asia, Latin America and North America. Processing plant pilot projects have ramped up in October with the rollout of the SPS 5.0 remote auditing.

Enhanced remote audits: This audit solution is designed for higher risk facilities that require a more robust remote audit scrutiny across all standards. New facilities to the BAP program (without previous certification experience or owned by entities with such), or sites with a problematic history (that have completed appropriate mitigation measures) will be offered an enhanced remote audit option to mitigate the increased risk.

To provide more context around this announcement, GAA has outlined a few points for its unique BAP customers and partners:

If you represent a BAP farm, feed mill or hatchery, your audit schedule should remain unchanged as remote audit solutions for these facility types were already piloted and implemented earlier in 2020. It is important to quickly organise your audit with the CB and get it done efficiently, in order to get your facility certification finalised within the six-month extension time period.

If you represent a BAP processing plant that needs to be audited, you will need to work with GAA and your assigned CB to identify the appropriate auditing solution from the list above. All processing plants assigned to a CB through August will be audited by Dec. 31, 2020. You may find this FAQ resource helpful as you prepare for a potential remote audit. 

If you represent a BAP processing plant that previously participated in the remote audit pilot, your designated BAP contact person will be contacted directly by a BAP team member to discuss your unique customer service needs, including an update on when and how your certificate will be issued.

If you are a BAP endorser or supplier partner in the marketplace, sourcing product from a BAP-certified processing plant, GAA encourage you to discuss with the producer how their unique audit option offers a credible solution for the certification you require.

If you have further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out to GAA at info@bapcertification.org.