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“The Road to Sustainable Aquaculture”: ASC’s side event at the UN Ocean Conference and evaluation of its performance against the SDGs

June 27, 2022

As part of the UN Ocean Conference 2022 in Lisbon, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) in collaboration with the Blue Food Partnership (a platform of the World Economic Forum led by Friends of Ocean Action) and the Certification and Ratings Collaboration hosted a side event on ‘The Road to Sustainable Aquaculture’ on 28th June. 

The event was convened to highlight the importance of sustainable and responsible aquaculture and the role the industry can play in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

To realise the goal of aquaculture making its fair contribution to all relevant SDGs, collective action across the industry is essential. To this end, ASC is an active member of the Blue Food Partnership, which works across the private and non-private sector as well as science and academia. 

In the run-up to the conference, a new report called Road to Sustainable Aquaculture: on current knowledge and priorities for responsible growth was launched by the Blue Food Partnership’s Sustainable Aquaculture Working Group. 

The report provides a strong foundation for a roadmap being developed by the working group, which will help define how aquaculture can contribute to the SDGs and set out a clear path to achieving this ambition. 

Discussing the current status of aquaculture and its future potential, as well as how to progress sustainable aquaculture at scale were Katherine Bryar, Global Marketing Director of BIOMAR, Jim Leape representing the Blue Food Assessment and Co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, Dr Wendy Norden, representing Director of Science and Global Strategies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Seafood Watch Program, and Chris Ninnes, CEO of the ASC. The participants concluded that the potential of blue foods will be fully realised only if they are brought into the broader food system decision-making. 

ASC’s evaluation against the SDGs  

In addition, ASC has completed a first-of-its-kind quantitative evaluation of its programme’s direct and indirect contributions to each of the 17 SDGs, and of the 169 SDG targets within them. While the full report will be published in fall 2022, ASC has shared some first findings during the side event.  

These include:  

  • Half (49%) of the 169 SDG targets can be considered within the scope of the aquaculture industry and thus also the ASC’s work. The ASC programme addresses more than 80% of those targets in scope either ‘well’ or ‘very well’: ‘Very well’ 40.2%, ‘Well’ 41.5% and ‘Partially’ 18.3%.
  • The targets in scope are found across all 17 SDGs; hence all of the 17 UN SDGs are being addressed by the ASC programme, but to different degrees.
  • The assessment also highlights that whereas aquaculture can and could contribute significantly to the SDGs, without providing independent and transparent assurances, it cannot credibly demonstrate its positive contributions towards specific SDG targets. This is a missed opportunity.  

ASC’s assessment can provide a proxy for how verifiable and transparent aquaculture certification can contribute to making credible performance-related SDG claims. 

ASC’s CEO Chris Ninnes said: “We at ASC are delighted to be involved in these critical discussions across the industry about what role aquaculture can play in meeting the UN SDGs. We know that as a sector we can only reach these ambitious goals through strong collaboration and a clear action plan. I am also proud of the robust work we are carrying out within ASC to measure our own contribution to this effort and look forward to sharing the full report later this year.” 

Download our 2-pager on how ASC contributes to the SDGs here.

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