What’s in a label?
A lot, according to results of a poll conducted by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).
The organization said majority (92 percent) of ASC-certified fish and shellfish farmers who responded to the survey found that ASC certification enhanced their reputation; 90 percent benefited from meeting buyers’ preference; and 87 percent gained access to new market opportunities.
An ACS certification verifies that the product was raised in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. To date, more than 600 farms have been certified, the majority of which are in Europe and Asia, and 11,000 different products are available on the market bearing the ASC consumer label. ASC surveyed farms certified to all eight ASC Farm standards and got a 21-percent response rate.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, the farmers said they valued the opportunity to reduce their environmental impact, and three quarters had become more aware of sustainability issues related to feed use.
More than one third of them found that their use of antibiotics and therapeutic medicines had decreased, while a quarter reported that their feed conversion ratio had lowered, thus reducing feed costs and environmental impact. Notable improvements in water quality and a reduction in fish mortalities were also linked directly to working through the ASC certification process, the organization said.
ASC certification was also found to have a positive effect on local communities, with 67 percent experiencing improved relationships. Over two thirds of farmers were found to actively support local communities through social projects, financial support and sponsorship of sporting events.
“Overall the survey showed us that we are doing a lot of things right. Our farm partners are important stakeholders and these findings are also an opportunity for us to further improve our offering,” said ASC CEO Chris Ninnes.