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Press Release: Aquaculture Stewardship Council Salmon Recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ® Program

June 5, 2017

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is pleased to announce today that with the release of a new benchmark report, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program now recognises the ASC Salmon Standard as at least equivalent to their Good Alternative recommendation.

In the report, Seafood Watch credits the requirements for data collection and performance based standards, including parameters for the responsible use of natural resources, the use of responsible feed and restrictions on the use of antibiotics for farms certified to the ASC standard as the basis for the deferral. The update is further recognition of the strength of the ASC programme and an independent confirmation of the rigour and credibility of the salmon standard.

The standard was benchmarked upon completion of the Operational Review of the ASC Salmon Standard which began in 2015. The goal of the ASC is to measurably improve the environmental and social performance of the aquaculture industry. To deliver on its mission, the ASC conducts regular reviews to ensure the continued inclusion of industry best practice and the effectiveness of the programme through a focused appraisal of each standard.

Upon the conclusion of the recent Operational Review of the salmon standard, the ASC updated or added 10 indicators to further improve the environmental and social performance of farms in the programme, including a reduction in the amount of wild fish allowed in aquafeed used to feed farmed salmon.

“The recommendation that consumers buy ASC certified salmon by one of the most respected conservation organisation in the world is further confirmation of the credibility and effectiveness of our programme,” said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. “We work collaboratively with those who share our dedication to improving the environmental and social performance of the rapidly growing aquaculture sector. This rating highlights the strengths and synergies of our programs and directly supports the ASC theory of change by encouraging more consumers to purchase responsibly farmed salmon certified with high levels of assurance that the farm operates at industry best practices and the products are traceable back to source.”

Ryan Bigelow, Program Engagement Manager for Seafood Watch said, “Our benchmark for deferral reflects the current industry best practice. The improvements ASC has made to their farmed salmon standard, particularly the mandate to further reduce to the amount of wild fish ingredients used on the farm, allow us to recommend ASC certified salmon to our partners, the public and other sustainability organizations that rely on our recommendations. We support continuous improvement and hope that the ASC will continue to strengthen its standards.”

Seafood Watch recommendations are determined through a rigorous assessment process that ensures that seafood rated Good Alternative has fewer environmental impacts which allows them to recommend their purchase. The report released today classifies the ASC Salmon Standard as equivalent or better to the Seafood Watch yellow rating-the colour associated with their Good Alternative category- and recommends that consumers purchase ASC certified salmon to support healthy ecosystems and thriving communities.

Peter Redmond, ASC’s Vice President of Market Development for North America said, “Achieving a recommendation from Seafood Watch is another key milestone for ASC. This recognition of the strengths of our salmon standard is a significant achievement in our continued efforts to not only collaborate with likeminded NGOs, but also provide a full solution for responsibly sourced aquaculture for retailers and food service providers.”

ASC certified salmon farms have been independently audited against a comprehensive standard that measures both social and environmental impacts across 8 principles, using 43 criteria, 154 performance indicators and 521 compliance points. ASC’s standards for responsible aquaculture are based on best practices, sound science and are truly global. The programme currently includes 198 salmon farms and a further 47 are assessment in eight countries around the world.

In addition to meeting strict environmental performance criteria, all ASC certified farms must operate in a socially responsible manner, caring for their employees and the local community.

Credible Standards Bring Stakeholder, Consumer Confidence

When consumers purchase ASC-certified seafood, they can feel confident they have selected fish from farms that are certified to the highest social and environmental standard.

ASC’s standards for responsible aquaculture are based on best practices and sound science and apply globally to farming systems covering all locations, types and scales of operations. To ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent standard setting process the standards were developed in line with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) guidelines for responsible aquaculture and ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice.

Continuous Improvement

ASC standards are not static. They are based on best practices in aquaculture and have been developed to encourage transparency, innovation and continuous improvement. Periodic reviews- specifically the previously referenced Operational Review which resulted in the update of the ASC Salmon Standard, the ASC Tilapia Standard, and the soon to be published updates to the ASC Pangasius Standard-ensure the continued relevance and effectiveness of the programme.

Notes to Editors:

About the ASC

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation co-founded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) in 2010 to manage the certification of responsible fish farming across the globe.

The ASC standards require farm performance to be measured against both environmental and social requirements. Certification is through an independent third party process and reports are uploaded to the public ASC website.

The on-pack ASC logo guarantees to consumers that the fish they purchase has been farmed with minimal impacts on the environment and on society.

The ASC standard addresses the following seven principles:

  • Legal compliance (obeying the law, the legal right to be there)
  • Preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity
  • Preservation of the water resources and water quality
  • Preservation of the diversity of species and wild populations (for example, minimising escapes that could become a threat to wild fish)
  • Monitored and responsible use of animal feed and other resources Animal health (no unnecessary use of antibiotics and chemicals)
  • Social responsibility (for example, no child labour, health and safety of employees, freedom of assembly, community relations).

For more information about ASC please visit

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that protect sea life and habitats, now and for future generations. Their recommendations indicate which seafood items are Best Choices or Good Alternatives, and which to Avoid.

They raise public awareness about sustainable seafood issues through our consumer guides, website, mobile apps and outreach efforts. Since 1999, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has distributed over 56 million consumer guides and their smartphone app has been downloaded over 1.8 million times. They also encourage restaurants, distributors and seafood purveyors to purchase from sustainable sources and partner with over 300 organisations with over 10,000 locations across North America, including two of the largest food service companies in the U.S.

Media Contact

Contessa Kellogg-Winters

Communications Director


Mobile: +1 857 279 0462

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