The Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue has announced the launch of new global standards for salmon farming and responsibility for applying the standards now moves to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which will oversee certification of farms.
The ASC will soon start with pilot farm audits and global interest has been expressed for these in Chile, Norway, British Columbia, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Chris Ninnes, Chief Executive of the ASC explained, "These pilots allow the certification programme for salmon to be tested in a practical way and that this will ensure the smooth running of the programme. It also gives salmon farms an opportunity to understand how their current practices match up against the standard." The first ASC certified products for ‘responsibly farmed' salmon are expected in the market in early 2013.
Fish from accredited farms will be able to carry the new ASC label for ‘farmed responsibly’ fish. The on-pack label compliments the Marine Stewardship Council’s ‘blue tick’ label which is used on certified and sustainably caught wild fish.
The ASC said that farmed salmon is a well-known and respected product among consumers and chefs, but minimising the associated environmental and social footprint will be crucial for maintaining its market position in the future.
The standards-development process began in 2004 and has included more than 500 farmers, conservationists, scientists, seafood buyers, government officials, native peoples and other salmon farming stakeholders.
Piers Hart, WWF Scotland aquaculture policy officer, said it is important that operators in Scotland – the third largest salmon producer in the world – embrace the standards in order to put the industry on a more sustainable footing and reduce the impact on the environment. He said, “Along with existing schemes highlighting responsibly caught wild fish we hope the ASC will give consumers the confidence to make the best choices when buying farmed seafood whether it is imported or produced in the UK.”