NETHERLANDS: Monterey Bay Aquarium has recognised Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified tilapia as equivalent or better to their Seafood Watch yellow rating, which is associated with their Good Alternative category.
The recommendation comes after an independent review of the standard by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. In its report, the agency cited the ASC requirements for data collection, effluent limits and environmental impacts assessments as some of the many features of the standard that lead to the buy recommendation.
“We believe this demonstrates the robust nature of the standard and is also a direct result of our desire to collaborate with all parties that share our interest in further advancing the goal of responsible aquaculture through certification,” pointed out Peter Redmond, ASC’s Vice President of Market Development for North America.
For his part, Ryan Bigelow, Program Engagement Manager, Seafood Watch stressed the improvements ASC has made to their farmed tilapia standard, particularly the mandate to further reduce antibiotic treatments during production, allow them to recommend ASC certified tilapia to their partners, the public and sustainability organizations that rely on their recommendations.
Meanwhile, Fang Qing, China Commercial Manager for ASC, commented the farmers that have invested in improved practices will be rewarded for their efforts and dedication to responsible aquaculture according to ASC’s transparent and public facing certification process.
At the conclusion of the review process, the ASC Tilapia Standard was updated to include further restrictions on the use of medicines to treat illness occurring on the farm.
The standard also includes a restriction common to ASC standards prohibiting the use of any antibiotics on the World Health Organization’s list of medicines critical to human health to treat fish. Both changes were factored into Seafood Watch’s ratings decision.
The recently completed review of the ASC Tilapia Standard included an analysis of a selection of performance criteria, to ensure that the standard continues to include the latest science and best practices.
ASC stressed that to ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent standard setting process, the standards were developed in line with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) guidelines for responsible aquaculture.
The ASC Tilapia Standard aims to address the key negative environmental and social impacts of tilapia farming. Farms must actively minimise the impact on the local ecosystem through many measures, including the development and implementation of an environmental impact assessment plan, controlling fish escapes and continuously measuring water parameters to ensure they do not negatively impact the quality of the water where they operate. Careful management also extends to fish health and the use of resources.
The ASC farm standards were developed through a comprehensive multi-stakeholder process that included participation from farmers, seafood suppliers, NGOs, scientists, government officials and other interested parties.