The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has launched one of its largest-ever rounds of public consultation starting 1 March and running to 30 April, 2022, seeking comments on the new ASC farm standard that will align all ASC-certified species under one standard.
The new single standard will benefit farmers and auditors through greater efficiency, and make it easier for stakeholders, such as NGOs, to assess and compare the ASC’s requirements for public consultation, the ASC said. Additionally, with this single, comprehensive standard, the ASC will be able to respond to changes in markets and the industry quicker than before.
“ASC’s farm standard will address all main impacts of aquaculture in a consistent manner across the industry in a more-effective and -efficient manner,” ASC Director of Standards and Science Michiel Fransen said. “We are now coming to the final stages of this project, and are asking for stakeholder feedback so we can be sure the final standard will meet expectations of all those that will use it.”
The standard will be split into three parts: Principles One, Two, and Three. Principle One covers legal compliance and effective business management, Principle Two covers environmental sustainability, and Principle Three covers social responsibility.
This is the second and final consultation for the legal and social principles in the standard. After consultation concludes, principles one and three will be finalized and sent to the ASC Supervisory Board for approval, with the aim of publishing after public feedback is collected.
The consultation will cover the entire standard – except for fish welfare, which went through a separate public consultation in 2021, but will ultimately be adopted into the ASC farm standard as well. The topics of focus include proposals for requiring all certified farms to report energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, a proposal aimed at combatting sea lice, and introduction of risk management plans for key topics like health and safety.
ASC will conduct the final round of consultation on the environmental criteria later this year, with the plan of finalizing Principle Two and sending it to the ASC Supervisory Board for approval in September 2023, with the aim of publishing after. During that time, ASC will be carrying out on-farm pilots to clarify the standard's verbiage and find elements that need further guidance for implementation.
All new developments or reviews will continue to be developed by multi-stakeholder governance groups and undergo public consultation, in line with best practices according to ISEAL.
Stakeholders can see details on the proposed standard and ways to provide feedback, including surveys and workshops, on the ASC website.