The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, international non-profit organization that has developed a certification programme for responsible aquaculture. ASC's mission is to transform aquaculture towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility using efficient market mechanisms that create value across the chain. The ASC uses market forces to transform aquaculture by reducing its key negative social and environmental impacts through compliance with standards at the farm level.
There are three key processes:
Aquaculture Certification | Steps to Certification | Chain of Custody Certification | Certification Bodies
The ASC standard for responsible fish farming covers seven principles:
In total eight standards, covering 12 species, have been formulated by the Aquaculture Dialogues initiated by WWF. Six standards - for abalone, bivalves, freshwater trout, pangasius, tilapia and salmon - have already been finalized. The ASC Standard for shrimp is expected by the end of 2013. Seriola/cobia will follow.
The ASC assessment has 5 steps to certification:
Once certified, a farm's certification lasts for three years and requires annual surveillances. At the end of three years, the farm is fully assessed once again against the ASC standard.
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council also oversees a Chain of Custody certification standard to ensure that the certified responsibly farmed products are traceable throughout the supply chain. Any company wishing to sell product as ASC certified must have ASC Chain of Custody certification for each species they wish to sell. The ASC Chain of Custody primarily assesses that processes are in place to track the ASC certified seafood and keep it separate from non-ASC-certified seafood in the supply chain. These certifications are completed by an independent, accredited third-party certifier and are valid for three years. Any company wishing to use the ASC logo on products or restaurant / foodservice operation using the logo on menus must also enter into a separate Logo Licensing Agreement with the ASC. There are four principles for the ASC seafood traceability standard:
The organization shall maintain documentation of their management system, which can vary based on the size, complexity, and personnel of the organization.
The organization shall maintain records that allow any product or batch of products sold by the organization as ASC certified to be traced from its sales invoice to an ASC certified source and vice versa.
ASC certified and non-ASC certified products shall not be mixed if the organization wishes to make a claim about these certified products, except as in 3.1.1. The organization shall operate a system for ensuring that packaging materials and other identification materials bearing the ASC logo cannot be used for non-ASC certified products.
For a current list of companies accredited to certify against the standards of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, please visit Accreditation Services International.
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