Mowi Canada West counters SeaChoice’s ASC criticisms

Published on
July 13, 2020

Mowi Canada West is countering claims from SeaChoice that its recent announcement that all of the company’s salmon farms in British Columbia, Canada are now Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified is misleading.

Mowi announced the milestone last week with the certification of Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass and Cougar Bay salmon farms, the last two of the 28 farms in the province to be certified to the ASC standard. However, according to a release from Vancouver, British Columbia-based SeaChoice, the certifications do not mean that all of the farms Mowi utilizes in the region are meeting the ASC standard.

“Since 2015, at least six interim smolt farms that have never been assessed against the standard have been used during the production cycle of Mowi’s ASC-certified salmon. These Mowi interim farms are not ASC-certified,” SeaChoice claimed in a press release. “The production cycle of B.C.-farmed salmon commonly includes an interim farm (often referred to as smolt-entry site, nursery pen or initial grow-out site) that is used between the hatchery and final growout stage. ASC’s interpretation of its own standard allows auditors to exclude the interim farm stage of production from audits.”

That fact, SeaChoice claims, means that some of the farms that Mowi Canada West uses for interim growout are not actually ASC certified, and those salmon then go on to be used in ASC certified farms.

“For example, Mowi reports indicate that in May 2020, its ASC-certified Hardwick grow-out farm received fish from the interim farm Larsen, which is not certified,” SeaChoice wrote. “Reports show that smolts first entered Larsen farm in March 2019, suggesting a total of 14 months of the production cycle that has been excluded from auditing for compliance with the ASC standard.”

Mowi countered those claims of a lack of certification, stating SeaChoice’s conclusion “is not based on the facts.”

“The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standards were developed using a robust and transparent process and are challenging to achieve. ASC certification is a statement of our values and commitment to social and environmental sustainability, something we strive for at all sites, regardless of whether they are eligible for ASC certification,” a Mowi spokesperson told SeafoodSource. “ASC focuses on production sites. Mowi Canada West has certified every site that it is able to under the scope of the ASC Salmon Standard. If this changes and additional types of sites are added to the program’s scope Mowi will add those sites into its certification process.”

Mowi added that even though some of its interim sites may not be ASC certifiable due to the current scope of the standard, the company still maintains other third-party sustainability certifications.

“Mowi is committed to healthy fish and environmental stewardship at all of its sites,” the spokesperson said. “All Mowi sites, including intermediate sites, are certified to the Best Aquaculture Practice standard.” 

Photo courtesy of Mowi Canada West

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