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ASC Rolls Out New Variance Request Procedure To Increase Stakeholder Accessibility and Transparency

March 9, 2023

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has updated its Variance Requests (VR) process to increase efficiency, accessibility, and stakeholder engagement. Under VR 2.0, the procedure is streamlined and applicable across all ASC Requirements.

The VR process provides necessary means for ASC to evaluate an adaptation of a global standard to a local context under the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL) Codes of Good Practice. VRs are also assessed during revisions of ASC’s Standards. All VRs are publicly available to ensure consistency in understanding and application of ASC Requirements. The procedure will be effective from 9 June 2023.

New Online Dashboard and Automated Notifications

One of the most significant improvements in the procedure is the increased accessibility of all Questions for Interpretation (“QAs”) and VRs to stakeholders. QAs provide means to clarify an interpretation of the language and/or the intent of an indicator or of a requirement. Interpretations provide temporary additional guidance and information between revisions to programme documents.

A new online dashboard is now available which allows stakeholders to filter active QAs and VRs according to topic, document, or country including per impact category, species-standards, country and effective dates/period.

ASC is committed to transparency in its standards-related VRs and welcomes stakeholder input. Stakeholders can also now sign up to receive automated notifications from ASC on Standards of their choosing. Once a VR for that/those standard(s) become(s) available, stakeholders will receive a notification and an invitation to provide their input online directly to ASC. The feedback process also allows input to be publicly published. This input will first be reviewed by ASC and, if accepted, will be thereafter published. If their feedback is not initially accepted, stakeholders will receive an e-mail notification from ASC and will be given the opportunity to edit their feedback for reconsideration. Stakeholders may also choose to add feedback by clicking on the “Add Comment” button on any standards’ VR on the VR Platform.

Moreover, stakeholders can also choose to include QAs when they sign-up for notifications. To subscribe to an automated notification on Standards Variance Requests and QAs, visit this link.

“VRs enable ASC’s Requirements to be applied in diverse and local situations. The new procedure ensures that stakeholders are given an accessible platform to engage and that all VRs are processed in a consistent manner and that outcomes are clear and replicable,” Renée Hamel, Technical and Operations Support Manager at ASC said.

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