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ASC seeks feedback to finalize content of its new single global farm standard

The new Farm Standard will align all of ASC’s species-specific standards into a single global, robust standard, bringing greater consistency to the ASC program.

April 10, 2024

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is launching the last round of stakeholder consultation today to help finalize the content of its new Farm Standard. Stakeholders are encouraged to take part before the consultation closes on Monday 20 May.

The new Farm Standard will align all of ASC’s species-specific standards into a single global, robust standard, bringing greater consistency to the ASC program and supporting the highest assurance throughout the supply chain.

It also addresses all relevant environmental and human rights impacts of aquaculture, regardless of production system or location of the farm.

It includes enhancements to existing requirements along with new requirements in key areas to address the environmental and social impacts of aquaculture. The Standard also enables ASC to act on market demand for new species and add new production systems to the program more efficiently.

Michiel Fransen, ASC director of Standards and Science, said, “We encourage all stakeholders to actively participate in this last round of consultation. Whether you’re a producer, a retailer, an academic, an NGO or anyone else who is interested in what we are doing, we want to hear from you! This will help make sure that the ASC Farm Standard reflects your expectations, expertise and experiences.”

Stakeholder inclusion and participation are key to ensuring that ASC continues to set the standard for seafood. To inform future direction more broadly, stakeholders will also be able to give their feedback in the consultation on where they believe ASC is doing well and where improvements can be made.

What’s in the new ASC Farm Standard?

The content of the ASC Farm Standard is divided across four principles: Farm management, Environmental responsibility, Social responsibility, and now including a newly-created fourth principle that covers Fish Health and Welfare as part of ASC’s new approach to address key areas of market concern.

The Fish Health and Welfare principle includes new criteria on handling, stunning and slaughter requirements and new eyestalk ablation restrictions for shrimp producers. Antibiotic usage restrictions for all producers will help drive ASC’s long-term approach to reducing antibiotic use in line with WHO’s One Health recommended approach for reducing dependence on antibiotics.

Maria Filipa Castanheira, ASC Standards Coordinator for Fish Welfare, said, “We believe that these focused, clear requirements on animal health and welfare will support producers to transparently demonstrate their responsible practices to their supply chain. The welfare indicators, handling and slaughter requirements, in particular, will contribute to lower animal stress levels and better welfare, which will ultimately contribute to better product quality, higher survival rates and reduced expenditure on disease prevention.”

Next steps

This final round of consultation will be used to evaluate an appropriate transition framework for farms, which will be at least 24 months. ASC will confirm the transition period for farms in September 2025. Following approval, the new Farm Standard will become operational in early 2025.

Chris Ninnes, ASC CEO, said that “this new standard will draw together years of experience, research and input from a range of ASC stakeholders spanning many backgrounds. It is a milestone development not only for ASC certification, but also for responsibly produced farmed seafood worldwide. We are proud to be setting the standard for seafood.”

To participate in the consultation, follow this link to find out more about the consultation and resources to help you provide your response. Contact with any questions.