ASC certificate holders must operate at the highest industry standards to ensure the preservation of the natural environment, biodiversity and water resources and provide good working conditions for their employees. To establish whether an operator meets the standard, an independent conformity assessment body (CAB) will perform an audit to determine compliance with the relevant ASC standard in the following areas of aquaculture:
- Legal compliance (obeying the law, the legal right to be there)
- Preservation of the natural environment and biodiversity
- Preservation of water resources
- Preservation of diversity of species and wild populations (e.g., preventing escapes which could pose a threat to wild fish)
- Responsible sourcing and use of animal feed and other resources
- Good animal health and husbandry (no unnecessary use of antibiotics and chemicals)
- Social responsibility (e.g. no child labour, health and safety of workers, freedom of assembly, community relations)
ASC Farm Standards
There are currently 11 ASC standards which cover 17 species groups: abalone; bivalves (clams, mussels, oyster, scallop); flatfish; freshwater trout; pangasius; salmon; seabass; seabream; meagre; seriola and cobia; shrimp; tilapia; and tropical marine finfish. There is also a joint ASC-MSC standard for seaweed.
Steps to ASC Certification
There are five steps to ASC certification:
- Public farm audit announcement and assessment team formation
- Information gathering, stakeholder meetings, and on-site auditing
- Public review of the draft assessment report
- Final report and determination
- Public certification report and certificate issue
A farm's certification lasts for three years and requires annual surveillance audits. At the end of three years, the farm is fully assessed once again against the ASC standard.
Chain of Custody Certification
Chain of Custody certification ensures that companies selling certified seafood have identification, segregation and traceability processes and procedures in place. Each company in the supply chain handling or selling an ASC certified product must have a valid Chain of Custody certificate. This assures consumers and seafood-buyers that ASC labeled products come from a certified responsible farm.
The ASC uses the Marine Stewardship Council’s Chain of Custody (CoC) Standard to verify the origin of seafood sold as ASC certified. This process benefits companies that handle both ASC and MSC certified seafood by allowing them to do a combined audit, although separate certificates are issued.
There are five principles in the Chain of Custody Standard:
- Companies must purchase certified product from a certified supplier
- Certified products are clearly identifiable
- Certified products are separated from non-certified
- Certified products are traceable and volumes are recorded
- The management system addresses the requirements of the Chain of Custody Standard
CoC audits are done by a third-party conformity assessment body. CoC certificates are valid for three years and require annual surveillance audits.
For a current list of companies accredited to certify against the standards of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, please visit Accreditation Services International.
Using the ASC Logo
Using the ASC logo provides companies with a competitive advantage and is proof of achievement in a market-leading program for the production of responsible aquaculture. The logo can be used on packaged products, in fresh fish counters, on restaurant menus, in marketing materials, and in many other ways.
The ASC Logo User Guide sets out the requirements for companies who want to use the logo.