Aquaculture | WWF
Aerial shot of fish ponds with mangroves in the background. 
	© Bertrand Coûteaux

Responsible Aquaculture

Almost half of the seafood we eat comes from farms.

And seafood farming—also known as aquaculture—is the fastest growing food production system in the world. But not all impacts from the industry are good.

When produced responsibly, aquaculture can thrive alongside healthy wild fish populations and without harming the marine environment, for the benefit of both businesses and local people.
Fish farming (aquaculture) is a promising solution—producing enough food for a growing population without having to rely exclusively on wild fish stocks.

Already, half the seafood we eat comes from farms. As the majority of wild seafood is already overfished, we will have to rely on aquaculture to satisfy growing demand.

► What are the environmental impacts of aquaculture?
85% Percentage of the world’s marine stocks that are either fully exploited or overfished, driving accelerated growth in the farmed seafood industry (FAO).

Our approach

For aquaculture to hold its promise to meet our future food demands, it will also need to demonstrate that it can produce better farmed seafood.

This means limiting the use of antibiotics and excessive feeding, avoid destroying coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, and ensure that the surrounding waters stay clean.  

This is precisely what the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), a certification scheme set up by WWF and partners, aims to do. With its partners, the ASC runs an ambitious programme to transform the world's farmed seafood market and promote the best environmental and social aquaculture performance.

► Read more about how WWF works with the aquaculture industry
► Read more about how WWF collaborates with governments for a responsible aquaculture industry
► Read about the latest progress of the ASC in certifying the seafood industry


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.

Be part of the solution

Farms, seafood processors/traders and retailers can join the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), the world's leading certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed seafood. ► Visit the ASC website 

Are you worried that the farmed seafood you buy has caused environmental damage? Look for produce with the ASC label, a guarantee that your purchase has met strict environmental criteria. ► Visit the ASC website 
	© ASC
    The ASC’s mission is to transform aquaculture toward environmental and social sustainability using efficient market mechanisms that create value across the supply chain.

Priority Countries

  • Production of salmon
    Norway, Chile, UK

    Production of shrimp
    China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ecuador, Belize, Honduras 

    USA, Japan, EU, Mexico

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