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Aquaculture Stewardship Council approved as ISEAL member

December 20, 2012

ISEAL announces the ASC as new associate member. ASC joins as an organisation whose system meets ISEAL’s entry level criteria in terms of scope, governance and practices. Associate membership reflects a commitment to credibility and facilitates the transition to full membership, where compliance is demonstrated with ISEAL’s internationally recognised Codes of Good Practice in standard-setting and impacts.

ISEAL supports associate members through this process to join a distinguished group of full members that includes Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade International and Marine Stewardship Council.

Welcoming the exciting news, Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC said “The associate membership of ISEAL marks the tremendous progress ASC has made towards becoming the world’s leading certification and logo programme for responsible aquaculture. It is a clear recognition of the hard work we have put into building a credible, transparent and effective organisation. Our commitment to credibility and transparency is reflected in all components of our programme from the development of the standards, the third-party audits that engage stakeholders in the process and our governance.”

ASC works with aquaculture producers, seafood processors, retail and foodservice companies, scientists and conservation groups to promote and reward responsibly farmed seafood. It manages a certification and labelling programme based on the species-specific standards, which include standards for salmon, tilapia, pangasius and bivalves. Aquaculture is a challenging sector, and the standards aim to address critical issues relating to natural habitat conservation, fish feed, water quality, and fair working conditions. To increase its effectiveness, ASC has already worked with ISEAL full member Marine Stewardship Council to coordinate their chain-of-custody systems. “We are happy to recognise a robust standard working to transform a challenging sector through common agreement on improved practices,” said ISEAL’s Executive Director Karin Kreider.

“ASC’s compliance with ISEAL guidelines demonstrates how robust and credible the WWF-coordinated Aquaculture Dialogues have been,” said Jose Villalon, Vice President of Aquaculture at World Wildlife Fund-US and Chairman of the ASC Board. “As the first ISEAL compliant aquaculture standard in the world, the ASC will continue to be a critical tool to feed a growing population while conserving our precious natural resources.”

Multi-stakeholder roundtables are a relatively new approach to sustainability standards that look to address social and environmental challenges in key global commodities. NGOs such as WWF, along with leading companies, scientific experts, and other key stakeholders have been involved in forging these initiatives to spur industry-wide transformation. Two existing ISEAL members, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and Bonsucro, were born out of similar processes.

“As market demand for food, fibre and fuel increases in the coming decades, so will the impact on our planet’s natural resources. Credible standards and certification systems help to meaningfully reduce impact from commodity production and support the transformation of entire sectors, which is an important element of WWF’s conservation strategy,” said Andrew Murphy, WWF’s Acting Market Transformation Initiative Director. “WWF works with leading global certification systems to ensure continuous improvement. Full ISEAL membership is one of WWF’s minimum requirements for certification systems. The endorsement of ASC as associate members is an important milestone on the way towards full ISEAL membership.”

With the announcement, ISEAL’s membership grows to 19 standards organisations operating in diverse sectors that address critical sustainability issues such as biodiversity conservation, resource use, working conditions and producer livelihoods. As the global association of sustainability standards, ISEAL brings the standards movement together to scale up its collective impact and engage in discussions on credibility and effectiveness.

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