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Harmonising the ASC Standards

December 17, 2014

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) will start a project to harmonise the structure and content of its eight farm standards to create one core ASC Standard. It will achieve this by harmonising criteria where possible while maintaining species’ or production method specific requirements where needed.

The ASC publicly launched a project this week to review the current ASC farm standards and identify commonalities across them. The core standard will cover the generic requirements, and species or production specific requirements will be covered in related annexes.

Having one core standard will ensure consistency across common issues, provide greater clarity for farmers, auditors and other stakeholders; and allow ASC to expand to include other species in a more efficient manner.

Bas Geerts, ASC Standards Director, said: “The current standards cover the 12 most commercially traded species’ groups; however, to truly deliver on our vision more species need to be included as soon as reasonably possible. With one core standard it will be much more efficient to expand to include other species. This means it will shorten the time to get the certified products of new species to market. In addition, based on our two and a half years of real life experience with the standards, we have identified improvement areas for species we currently cover, most importantly ensuring a more consistent approach across species. Overall, we would expect the whole process to be more effective and more efficient in the future. And this will enable us to further stimulate positive change in the global aquaculture sector in a clear and consistent manner.”

The current ASC standards were developed by the WWF aquaculture dialogues and each of those has also delivered its own set of a standard and a guidance document. Now that ASC has experience of having its standards implemented by well over 100 farms globally and have the products traded to many different markets, it can also think about how to improve the scheme documents and manuals, as well as their application. This is expected to lead to further consistency across species. It will also facilitate the ASC’s expansion addressing environmental and social issues for species yet to be added to the program.

“We first needed to see our current standards being applied in real life to know where the true improvements lie. Now, we have learnt a lot from the certification of farms in many different regions globally, across species and across different production methods over the last two years, which is invaluable to inform this harmonised standard.”

The Terms of Reference is open for public comment. To find out more or get involved in the project visit the project pages on the ASC website.

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