Businesses that join the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) commit themselves to a better way of producing farmed seafood that has less impact on the environment. On the ground, this translates into practices that are mindful of people’s working conditions, biodiversity preservation, water quality and how much of it is used, and taking good care of animals.
These practices are enshrined in tough standards. For example, farms that get certified by the ASC can’t destroy mangroves (in the case of shrimp), operate in natural wetlands or where endangered species live. There are strict controls over escapes of farmed fish into the wild and—unique to the ASC—farmers who want to use fish meal made from wild-caught seafood have to ensure it comes from credibly certified sources. This includes strict limits on how much wild-caught fish can be used per kilo of fish raised. No Genetically Modified (GM) animals can be farmed.
Working conditions on ASC farms are also well regulated. Farms have to undertake a Social Impact Assessment based on ILO
requirements or SA8000
which looks at conflict resolution, non-discrimination and indigenous people rights, amongst others.
Such is the appeal of the ASC that members of the Global Salmon Initiative, representing 50% of farmed salmon production worldwide, have committed to 100% ASC certification by 2020.