Seaweed farm in Korea is the first of its kind to earn milestone ASC-MSC certification

Published on
November 7, 2019

A Republic of Korea seaweed farm has become the first of its kind to achieve certification under the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Seaweed Standard.

Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network, based in Gijang County in the Republic of Korea, cultivates wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) at sea and is the second producer to be certified against the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard, after Japan’s Euglena Co. Gijang is the first at-sea cultivator to achieve the certification, ASC and MSC confirmed in a press release.

Buyers in China, Japan, the United States, Germany, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom purchase Gijang’s wakame seaweed, which is farmed using ropes at sea and harvested manually. Grown from spores produced by the farm, with no reliance on wild harvested seaweed, the wakame cultivated by Gijang is a well-known seaweed product in the Korean domestic market.

In order to be approved under the standard, Gijang had to demonstrate a minimal impact on the environment, including local habitats, ecosystems, and endangered species, which it was proudly able to do, according to Minsu Kim from Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network

“We are delighted to achieve ASC-MSC certification to demonstrate our responsible farming practices,” Kim said. “Our seaweed is sold to customers around the world, and we want to give them the assurance that our products have been produced with minimal environmental and social impacts.”

“Congratulations to Gijang on achieving ASC-MSC certification,” added Patricia Bianchi, seaweed account manager for ASC and MSC. “The certification confirms the sustainable environmental practices of the operation, and their safeguarding of nearby marine ecosystems, and also ensures the good labour conditions of the hardworking employees, and positive impacts for local communities. This certification is an exciting development because it means consumers in Europe and Asia will be able to enjoy the health benefits of seaweed that has been responsibly produced. As seaweed products increase in popularity it will become more important than ever to ensure they are farmed or harvested responsibly, and the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard provides that assurance.”

A ceremony held at the Busan International Fisheries & Seafood Expo in South Korea on 6 November celebrated the new certification, with representatives from ASC, MSC, WWF South Korea, the Norwegian Embassy, and Ikea in attendance.

Wakame has a rich history, having been farmed for over 1,000 years, emerging as a staple in a number of popular dishes in Korea and Japan, such as Miyeok Guk and miso soups. The seaweed is a main ingredient in seaweed salads, popular in sushi restaurants around the world. Its low calorie and high nutrient content mean it is considered by many to be a superfood, ASC and MSC said.

The Seaweed Standard was launched by ASC and MSC in February 2018, and is the first joint standard between the certifiers. It was incepted to help “protect marine environments and secure the livelihoods of those who depend on them by recognizing and rewarding sustainable and socially responsible seaweed and algae production,” the certification bodies noted.

Photo courtesy of Tatiana Frank/Shutterstock

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