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First Finfish Farm in United States Achieves ASC Certification

February 8, 2021

Blue Ocean Mariculture has become the first ASC certified finfish farm in the US after achieving certification against the ASC Seriola and Cobia Standard at its Hawaii farm.

Blue Ocean Mariculture farms Seriola rivoliana, also known as almaco jack, that is branded as Hawaiian Kanpachi. The farm achieved certification after a rigorous multi-day on-site audit by the independent conformity assessment body, SCS Global Services. The audit assessed the farm’s performance against dozens of stringent requirements covering environmental and social impacts.

Hawaiian Kanpachi is highly prized by chefs, especially for use in sushi. It is found naturally in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, and Blue Ocean Mariculture farms the fish in submersible open-ocean pens in the seas off the Island of Hawaii, near Kona.

Unlike other certification programs, farms applying for ASC certification must demonstrate not only that they meet strict environmental requirements but also that they are managed in a socially responsible way. Just a few of the requirements in the ASC Seriola and Cobia Standard include: maintaining good water quality in and around the farm; minimizing escapes; sourcing feed responsibly; paying and treating workers fairly; and acting as responsible neighbours to nearby communities.

Blue Ocean Mariculture farms the fish in submersible open-ocean pens in the seas off the Island of Hawaii, near Kona

Kathleen McDavitt, ASC US Market Development Manager, said: “This exciting news is a testament to the hard work of Blue Ocean Mariculture. There is a vibrant and growing aquaculture industry in the US, and it’s so important that it grows in an environmentally and socially responsible way, which is exactly what ASC certification is about.

“We know that US consumers are increasingly looking to make more environmentally conscientious decisions, and farms like Blue Ocean Mariculture are giving them the option to do this while also buying local.”

Dick Jones, CEO of Blue Ocean said: “Our Hawaiian Kanpachi is grown in the spirit of Aloha ‘Āina which respects all living things. Our audit to the ASC standard reinforces our commitment to the highest level of performance at our farm, and when combined with the unparalleled quality and freshness of our fish, we can only deliver the best eating experience possible to our discerning customers.”

Adam Daddino, Aquaculture Program Manager, SCS Global Services said: “SCS applauds Blue Ocean Mariculture for achieving this notable landmark and becoming the first ASC certified finfish aquaculture farm in the United States. We are happy to see the growth of aquaculture in the United States. Based on our rigorous third-party assessment, Blue Ocean Mariculture has demonstrated they are ready to help lead the US forward with environmentally and socially responsible farming practices.”

All ASC standards are audited by independent third-party companies, known as Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), which ensures that the program is implemented fairly and impartially. Initial audits involve auditors from CABs visiting the farm, taking measurements, viewing records and talking to staff to ensure the farm is meeting all of the requirements of the standard.

Consumers can look for the ASC label on seafood products, which can only be used if all of the ingredients come from ASC certified farms, and have only been processed by certified companies throughout the entire supply chain.

Blue Ocean Mariculture began operating in 2009 and its facility now covers the entire production of Hawaiian Kanpachi, with an onshore hatchery linked to the submersible open-ocean pens where fish are grown out. It sells its fish to a mixture of businesses, especially sushi manufacturers who, in turn, supply retailers and caterers. Seriola’s quality makes it a popular ingredient for sushi, and the name ‘kanpachi’ is itself Japanese: ‘kan pachi’ means ‘centre eight’, a reference to the distinctive bands over the eyes of the young fish.

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