The farm is operated by Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network, based in Gijang County in the Republic of Korea. The farm cultivates wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) at sea, which is dried, processed and sold for human consumption around the world, including to buyers in China, Japan, the United States, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK.
Wakame has been farmed for over 1,000 years, and is used in a number of popular dishes such as miso soups, as well as being the main ingredients of seaweed salads, popular in sushi restaurants around the world. Its low calorie and high nutrient content mean it is considered by many to be a superfood.
Gijang is the second producer to be certified against the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard, after Euglena Co in Japan, and is the first farm cultivating at sea to achieve the certification. Wakame is cultivated on ropes at sea, and harvested manually. To achieve certification, the farm has demonstrated a minimal impact on the environment, including local habitats, ecosystems and endangered species. The seaweed is grown from spores produced by the farm, with no reliance on wild harvested seaweed. Wakame cultivated in Gijang is a well-known seaweed product in the Korean domestic market.
“We are delighted to achieve ASC-MSC certification to demonstrate our responsible farming practices,” said Minsu Kim from Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network. “Our seaweed is sold to customers around the world, and we want to give them the assurance that our products have been produced with minimal environmental and social impacts.”
“Congratulations to Gijang on achieving ASC-MSC certification,” said Patricia Bianchi, seaweed account manager for ASC and MSC. “The certification confirms the sustainable environmental practices of the operation, and their safeguarding of nearby marine ecosystems, and also ensures the good labour conditions of the hardworking employees, and positive impacts for local communities.
“This certification is an exciting development because it means consumers in Europe and Asia will be able to enjoy the health benefits of seaweed that has been responsibly produced. As seaweed products increase in popularity it will become more important than ever to ensure they are farmed or harvested responsibly, and the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard provides that assurance.”
The certification was marked with a ceremony at the Busan International Fisheries & Seafood Expo in South Korea on 6 November. The ceremony was attended by representatives from ASC, MSC, WWF South Korea, the Norwegian Embassy and Ikea.