ASC-certified fish farms testing out Fair Trade standards

Select fish farms certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) will soon be piloting Fair Trade USA’s requirements, thanks to a recent memorandum of understanding signed by the certification bodies. 

The collaboration, announced 9 October, will see Fair Trade USA’s model of "responsible business and conscious consumption" implemented by certain ASC-certified fish farms. The pilot – being carried out in the framework of ASC’s new Improver Program – will allow the certifiers to determine if Fair Trade’s program, which enables sustainable livelihoods for fishermen around the world while empowering them to improve their communities via the Community Development Fund, can act as a ladder toward ASC certification. 

“The Capture Fisheries Standard for wild fisheries has been the cornerstone of the Fair Trade seafood program since its inception in 2014, and now thousands of fishermen and workers are reaping its benefits,” said Julie Kuchepatov, seafood director at Fair Trade USA. “We look forward to working with ASC to bring the benefits of Fair Trade to fish farmers and workers and increase the environmental and social impact of our respective programs.”

“We are excited to bring the expertise of both organizations together in service of our shared goal to further improve the social and environmental performance of the aquaculture industry,” added Roy van Daatselaar, producer support manager at ASC. 

ASC’s Improver Program, which was launched at the beginning of October, is aimed at helping seafood farmers not yet ready to achieve certification with improving their practices and mitigating their social and environmental impacts. The program has already seen ASC team up with the Vietnamese Directorate of Fisheries (D-Fish) and WWF Vietnam to provide guidance documents geared at helping VietGAP-certified farmers to achieve ASC certification. This new arrangement with Fair Trade USA signals the program’s ongoing expansion and will benefit producers with a more comprehensive approach to certification, according to Daatselaar.

“ASC has had remarkable success in driving better performance and accountability through certification. We’ve created the Improver Program to expand the benefits of the program by helping those farms that are either not ready for, or may not ultimately be interested in, certification to progress their operations and reduce their impacts. Our collaboration will allow producers to both benefit from Fair Trade’s experience in community development and ASC’s comprehensive and scientifically-driven aquaculture certification to deliver efficient pathways for those that choose to seek certification,” Daatselaar said. 

There are nine Fair Trade-certified seafood supply chains currently, with several more in the pipeline, the certifier said. Products with Fair Trade certification such as Indonesian yellowfin tuna, Mexican blue shrimp, Maldivian skipjack tuna, Alaskan salmon, and scallops from New England, are offered by more than 20 North American retailers including Safeway, Hy-Vee, and Whole Foods Market. 


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