Sustainable seafood means the world to us. That is why we are setting the standard for seafood farmed with care. We promote responsible seafood farming as a contributory solution in helping feed the world’s population with care for our planet and people.
Today, 33% of wild fish stocks have reached their biological limit, thus seafood from wild catch will not be able to feed the world’s growing population. That is why more than half of the fish eaten around the world now originates from seafood farming, and the share is predicted to increase. The rapid growth of aquaculture has led to badly managed fish farms, water pollution, damage to local environments and poor working conditions. A lot is at stake, given that seafood provides livelihoods and an affordable animal protein for billions of people, especially in developing countries.
That’s why it is more important than ever that seafood farming is done responsibly, with care for people and the planet.
Our mission at ASC is to transform the industry towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
In 2010, we launched the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) as an impact-driven NGO. We partnered with the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH and WWF Netherlands to make aquaculture more sustainable. We do this by setting strict standards for seafood and farms and deliver high assurance throughout the supply chain.
To drive our third party certification and labelling programme for seafood farming worldwide, we work with the environmental and scientific community and beyond. Together, we develop standards with other NGOs, academics, farmers, retailers and experts. And we keep developing more standards to meet changing market needs and demand.
ASC certified farms are independently assessed against every requirement in their species-specific ASC standard. Our system has been evaluated against ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice, a globally-recognised framework for effective, credible sustainability systems. Playing to these codes, we’ve become the world’s leading farmed seafood certification programme, from farm to fork.
We make an impact at every step, from water quality, responsible sourcing of feed, disease prevention, animal welfare, to fair treatment and pay for workers to maintaining positive relationships with local communities. Only after they pass the audit, a farm’s seafood can be sold in retail stores with the ASC label on pack. It lets consumers know they’ve made the most trusted seafood choice produced with care for people and our planet. Every package of ASC labelled seafood is traceable back to ASC certified farms. Then we reinvest income from ASC certified products and charitable donations to promote responsible seafood farming.
Today, ASC labelled seafood is already available for consumers in more than 90 countries, thanks to the uptake of ASC with producers and businesses around the globe. But this is just the start. Every day, we work on further improvement of our certification programme and innovations beyond just certification. This is how we can continue to deliver proven, measurable and meaningful impact on people and our planet.
What we do
Our robust standards
The ASC Standards are developed in line with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations Guidelines and ISEAL Standard Setting Code of Good Practice.
We also use the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impacts of our Standards to demonstrate the change we foster through our work.
Our commitment to use the ISEAL Impacts Code required the development of a rigorous monitoring and evaluation (M&E) process to capture the effort farms make on their journey towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The M&E process requires that we:
- define our organisational objectives
- understand what we must do to achieve these objectives
- identify how we measure our achievements
- seek feedback from key stakeholders in an effort to refine the system over time
The ISEAL Code of Good Practice doesn’t just give us a framework for setting up a process for our long and short term objectives but ensures that we can demonstrate that the environmental and social impacts of seafood farming have been reduced and that we are promoting positive change.
Independent, transparent and inclusive certification process
The assessment procedure for ASC certification is independent, done by accredited certifiers, and allows for a high level of stakeholder engagement. Each farm audit is announced onour website in advance and all stakeholders — including the community, the public, NGOs and many others— are encouraged to submit information and data online at multiple points in the certification process.
The auditor will hold site visits and solicit participants for public meetings near the audit sites and other locations as appropriate. The draft audit report can be viewed for 15 working days prior to the close of the process and anyone can raise an objection—which the CAB must consider prior to making a final decision— if so desired.
We conduct regular reviews of all standards and the programme as a whole. During these, we run extensive public consultation periods inviting stakeholders to input and contribute to the revision. This way, we ensure our ASC standards remain robust and meet or exceed best industry practices.
Our Theory of Change
We are a globally recognised programme that uses market mechanisms to drive environmental and social improvements in seafood farming. Seafood lovers and buyers choosing seafood products with the green ASC label reward farmers that have proven to care for people and the planet.
As more farms join the ASC Programme and we continue to expand our scope, we will increase our reporting to demonstrate our impact and understand the change to which ASC and our farms are contributing.