The standard was developed in response to stakeholder demand for the species, which has historically been strong in European markets. According to the ASC, production of these species has grown in recent years, particularly in Turkey and Greece, in response to the rising demand for the species in markets such as Japan, the Middle East and North America.
“The release of the sea bass, sea bream and meagre standards is an exciting development and another milestone for the programme,” said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. “The introduction of this standard helps further our mission to drive widespread improvements in the aquaculture industry and provide lasting benefits that will protect the environment, farm workers, and local communities."
Using metrics, including but not restricted to, prohibitions on the use of antibiotics and measurements of dissolved oxygen levels, the standard establishes best practices for farming all species in the genera Dicentrarcus, Sparus, Pagrus and Argyrosomus. The standard was created by using a combination of indicators from existing multi-stakeholder developed standards and the creation of additional metrics to address the specific impacts of farming these species.
For the new requirements, ASC worked with NGOs and industry partners and completed multiple site visits to countries including Greece, Turkey and Japan to develop unique metrics including prohibitions on the siting of farms near seagrass meadows to protect these important areas from the potential negative impacts of aquaculture.
The standard, which was developed in line with ISEAL’s Code of Good Practice and involved two rounds of public consultation now enters a six-month effective period. During this time, farms can read the requirements on the ASC website.
The ASC standards address 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).