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ASC Farm Standard – Principle 3

ASC Farm Standard – Principle 3 – in development – 

The forthcoming ASC Farm Standard will be split into three principles. Principle 1 covers legal compliance, Principle 2 covers environmental impacts and Principle 3 covers social impacts.

Contact person: Michiel Fransen

The development of the Criteria of Principle 3 drew upon the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and recommendations, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Social Accountability International standard (SA8000).

Notably, Principle 3 ensures ASC’s continuous and full alignment with the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work including freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Principle 3 on social responsibility includes 13 criteria related to employees’ rights (upholding rights, decent and safe labour conditions, grievances) and the rights of the communities (including Indigenous and tribal peoples) in which the farms operate.

Principle 3 covers the following criteria/topics, each with its own set of indicators/requirements:

Criterion 3.1 – Rights Awareness

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a list of thirty rights and freedoms that belong to every human being and are to be universally protected. Principle 3 of the ASC Farm Standard addresses the importance of aquaculture that is socially responsible and ensures that activities do not in any way contravene the UDHR. This Criterion introduces this topic with requirements on a human rights policy.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.2 – Forced, Bonded, Compulsory Labour and Human Trafficking

Forced, bonded, compulsory labour and human trafficking are a persistent problem in many industries, and aquaculture is no exception. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transfer or harbouring of a person by threat or force. Debt bondage is when labour is demanded as means of payment of debt, and there are other, more subtle forms of forced labour, that force employees to remain in their jobs against their will. The ASC Farm Standard prohibits any form of forced labour through stringent requirements. 

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.3 – Child Labour

All children have the right to be protected from doing work that is dangerous or bad for their health, education or development. This Criterion focuses on the prevention of child labour, safe conditions for young workers and effective remediation should any instance of child labour be found.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.4 – Discrimination

Discrimination is a global and pervasive problem that can have negative impacts on many levels. Individuals can suffer unequal treatment, stress and harm, at home, in society and in the workplace. Despite the widespread acknowledgement of discrimination, it is still common in the workplace. Consequently, it is a priority for the ASC Farm Standard, which includes indicators to ensure equal treatment of all employees and prevent discrimination.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.5 – Health and Safety

Working in a safe and healthy environment means that workers are protected from accidents, injuries and illness arising from their employment. Health and safety within the global aquaculture industry is still widely overlooked. Part of ASC’s mission is social responsibility in aquaculture, which includes ensuring that ASC certified farms provide a healthy, safe and secure workplace for their employees and staff. 

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.6 – Collective Bargaining and Freedom of Association

The right to freedom of association is the right to join a formal or informal group to take collective action towards the employer. Collective bargaining promotes peaceful and inclusive participation of representative workers’ and employers’ organisations, facilitating discussions around subjects like wage negotiation and working conditions between employers and employees. The ASC Farm Standard requires farms to protect employees’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.7 – Transparent Contracts

Employment agreements consist of terms and conditions that address important aspects of the employment, such as the respective duties and responsibilities of employer and employee. Contracts that lack transparency can create uncertainty with regard to the rights of the employee and their social protection. The ASC Farm Standard ensures that employees clearly understand the terms and conditions of their employment and contributes to transparency and accountability at a workplace level. 

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.8 – Wages

Every employee deserves a decent reward for their efforts, which is set in a transparent manner and safeguarded through company management. Low wages contribute to increased poverty, poorer income distribution and increased social costs. The ASC Farm Standard requires farms to pay their employees sufficient wages in a transparent manner, to contribute to the reduction of poverty.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.9 – Working Hours

Limited working hours have been declared a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but despite the regulation of working time being one of the oldest concerns of labour legislation, excessive working hours are still a widespread issue in many industries and regions. The ASC Farm Standard provides a framework for regulating hours of work, daily and weekly rest periods, and annual holidays.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.10 – Workplace Conduct Response

Creating a good and effective work environment involves having procedures in place to resolve any issues through a process of escalation. Aiming to protect both the dignity and the physical and mental health of any individual, the ASC Farm Standard strives to deliver an effective and consistent method of dealing with performance matters.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.11 – Employee Accommodation

It is recognised that everyone has the right to a standard of living (including housing), which is adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their family. In many sectors, including in aquaculture, employees can reside for a period in accommodation provided by the employer. The ASC Farm Standard requires that any accommodation provided by the farm must be safe, decent and hygienic. 

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.12 – Grievance Mechanism

Grievances and conflicts can at times be part of employment relationships, and when they are not addressed, it can lower morale, decrease productivity, and in serious cases allow worker rights violations to continue. Worker grievance mechanisms offer a system in which both the employee and the employer have the possibility to effectively address a workplace problem. ASC certified farms are required to facilitate dialogue, prevent disputes and provide accessible worker grievance mechanisms that resolve any grievances that occur.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Criterion 3.13 – Community Engagement

Aquaculture industry operations often form an important part of the economic backbone of the communities in which they are located. Farm activities can have an impact on the local community and Indigenous and tribal peoples. Engagement with the communities is important to ensure prevention of any negative impacts on the community and to help embed the business in the local community. ASC certified farms must be aware of their impacts on affected communities, work to minimise any negative impacts and engage with the communities in a constructive manner.

Watch a short video explaining this criterion here

Annex 2 – Data recording and submission

Transparency is key to ASC’s credibility. Data is also essential for impact monitoring, standard development, facilitate risk-based auditing and researchASC aims to improve the quality, extent, and standardisation of reporting. Data will be submitted by the Farm site or the UoC through the webportalChainpoint.​

Watch a short video explaining this annex here.

Annex 3 – Risk Management Framework (RMF)

ASC is working to develop a Risk Management Framework (RMF) that will provide farms with clear and consistent elements needed to support the implementation of a risk-based approach to the requirements. The framework covers: Environmental impacts, Community impactsWorker’s health and safety, and Child and forced labour.

Watch a short video explaining this annex here

What’s next?

Because the Legal and Social dimensions are closely intertwined, the proposed criteria and indicators for P1 and P3 were published together for public consultation in 2019, and are currently open for public consultation until April 30th 2022, after which the feedback received will be used to finalise them. P1 and P3 are scheduled for release in 2022.

More information


[Page last updated on 19.05.2022]

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