ASC initiates phaseout of Chinese operations; GSA responds to BAP criticism

ASC's recent Aloha Austin event
ASC's recent Aloha Austin event | Photo courtesy of ASC
4 Min

SeafoodSource is closely following the sustainable seafood movement by compiling a regular round-up of sector updates about sustainability initiatives and certifications.

- The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has initiated a plan to cease its operations in China, the organization said on 27 March.

Currently, there are 30 China-based farms holding ASC certification, according to ASC’s website. The certified farms mostly harvest bivalves and tilapia, with one listed shrimp farm.

“Over the last 18 months, ASC has undertaken a strategic business review of internal operations and of current and future operational regions and markets,” ASC Global Press Manager Sophia Balod-Lorenzo told SeafoodSource in a statement. “As a result of this business review, ASC has decided to phase out program operations and cease investment in China. This will allow ASC to focus and invest in coming years in regions, markets, and activities where we believe we can have the greatest impact through effective use of our limited resources. Our position may change following future business reviews.”

The move comes amid criticism the organization failed to identify Uyghur and North Korean laborers in Chinese seafood processing plants.

ASC declined SeafoodSource’s request for additional comment or information.

- The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA), which operates the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification, has responded to criticism aimed at BAP auditing processes that failed to spot alleged forced labor at Indian shrimp farms or Chinese seafood processing plants.

"Speaking for everyone at the Global Seafood Alliance who dedicates their passion and experience to bring about positive change in the seafood industry, the recent reports of worker abuses in India’s shrimp supply chain are upsetting," GSA CEO Wally Stevens said in a statement. "While third-party certification is a meaningful tool for supply chain managers to have greater insights into the types of operations that they source product from, it does have its limitations. Certification ... was never going to be a miracle cure or a 'golden shield' for all that ails us."

The GSA went on to state that it is now investigating its internal processes to ensure it maintains high standards of enforcement across its network.

"When you disengage from a problem, you cede your position to help solve it," Stevens said. "GSA will not abandon its vision or its responsibilities in any area of the world where this kind of work is sorely needed simply because the challenge is too great." 

- The Pedro Bank Jamaica Queen Conch Industrial Dive Fishery achieved MSC certification for sustainable fishing.

The certification is a milestone, as it marks the first conch fishery in the world to achieve MSC certification and also the first fishery in Jamacia to receive MSC certification.

“Jamaica Queen Conch's MSC certification marks a significant milestone in their sustainable fishing journey and a notable first for conch and Jamaica,” MSC Americas Director Erika Feller said in a release. “The certification is validation of the fishery’s sustainable fishing practices and dedication to environmental stewardship. Congratulations to the conch fishery, Jamaica, and all the partners whose commitment to responsible management of marine resources led to this accomplishment. We at MSC are proud to celebrate with you.”

 - The Aquaculture Stewardship Council has partnered with seafood producer Blue Ocean Mariculture, which is based in Kona, Hawaii, U.S.A., to unite nearly 150 seafood industry leaders and influencers for an event at the annual SXSW Conference. 

The ASC's event was titled "Aloha Austin: A Certified Seafood Feast" and took place 12 and 13 March.

The event showcased Blue Ocean Mariculture’s ASC-certified Hawaiian kanpachi products, ranging from fresh ceviche and succulent sashimi to Texas-style smoked fish with prickly pear de gallo, ASC said in a release.

“Tasting is believing,” Marketing Manager Athena Davis said. “While some of you may have come here with a picture of farmed seafood that’s not so pretty, we hope you leave with a changed perspective after learning and dining with us.”

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