The GSSI benchmark is based on the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) guidelines for the ecolabelling of seafood. This aims to give clarity on seafood certification schemes.
To become recognised, schemes must demonstrate alignment with a number of essential components including the robustness of the standard itself, as well as how it is applied, managed and audited. In addition to the essential components, the ASC Shrimp Standard met an additional 16 supplementary components, covering issues including antibiotic restrictions, survival rates, and waste management.
Michiel Fransen, head of standards and science at the ASC, said, “As part of ASC’s mission to drive up standards across aquaculture, we are working to continuously review and revise our own standards. A review of the Shrimp Standard is currently underway, looking at strengthening a number of aspects including requirements around mangrove forests, minimising impacts to areas around farms, and the sourcing of broodstock.”
Farm performance measured against environmental and social requirements
The ASC programme was developed according to the UN FAO guidelines and is the only aquaculture certification scheme to be recognised as a full member of the ISEAL Alliance, which requires an inclusive and transparent standard-setting.
The Shrimp Standard was developed by the Shrimp Aquaculture Dialogue Steering Committee, a multi-stakeholder group made up of NGOs, academics, and industry representatives.
The majority of certified farms are in Vietnam, Ecuador, Indonesia and Honduras. The current review of the standard is looking at antibiotic-related requirements, and those regarding mangroves, farm management, broodstock and the species-scope. The public consultation will begin this year, and ASC is currently gathering farming and research data on a number of shrimp species to help set metrics for the standard.
In addition to its Farm Standards, ASC will be releasing the first version of the ASC Feed Standard. This standard will detail requirements for the feed manufacturer, its direct ingredient manufacturers and the primary raw material production of both marine-based and plant-based commodities.
The Shrimp Standard includes more than 100 performance indicators that farmers must meet to show that they are protecting the environment and respecting their workforce. Requirements include the prohibition of antibiotic use, monitoring of water quality, paying workers fair wages, treating them well, providing worker training and engaging in meaningful consultation and dialogue with local communities and indigenous populations.
ASC certified farms must implement health management plans to reduce disease prevalence. In many parts of the world shrimp farming can impact on mangrove forests which are vital habitats for many species, but the ASC Shrimp Standard forbids any clearing of mangrove forests and in some case will require the restoration of cleared forests.