AUTHOR: Maud van den Haspel, Commercial Manager, UK & Netherlands, Aquaculture Stewardship Council

 

More and more of us enjoy life on this planet. And we like to eat. With the global population expected to hit 9.7 billion by 2050, the demand for healthy food is increasing. Seafood is a healthy, nutritious source of protein. We love getting it from the sea, but as is well known our oceans are under pressure. In 2015, 33% of global fisheries were overfished and an additional 60% were fished at maximum capacity. It looks like we need to rethink whether there really are “plenty of fish in the sea”.

With the growing global population and limits on what our oceans can give us, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation has pointed at aquaculture to anticipate and fill the supply-demand gap that we’re facing.

So, it’s time to talk about farmed fish.

Contrary to popular belief, aquaculture has been around for centuries. Early forms dating back to 8,000 years ago in China. Today, more than half of the seafood we enjoy comes from fish farms. Among these are some of our favourite seafood species in the UK, such as salmon, prawns, sea bass and trout.

When aquaculture is not well managed, it can have a range of adverse impacts, including water pollution, disruption of local ecosystems and poor working conditions. The faster the aquaculture industry grows, the greater its potential impact on the environment and local communities. And today, aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production systems in the world. All the more important that we do it right.

Farming seafood can be done in an environmentally and socially responsible way. It’s important to look at how seafood is farmed when addressing impacts. Farmers raising shrimp in ponds in central America face different challenges from a Greek farmer raising sea bass in the Mediterranean. Think of fresh water versus salt water and the presence of mangroves versus seagrass. And what about all the differences between a shrimp and a sea bass and their needs with regards to feed or medication!

It can be difficult to familiarise yourself with farmed seafood sources and farms’ efforts to mitigate impacts, particularly for (smaller) foodservice companies. This is where certification comes in. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is a certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed fish. When a fish farm meets ASC’s species-specific standards, their seafood can be served with the green ASC logo. The logo enables seafood lovers to make an informed choice about the prawns, mussels or salmon they eat.

ASC certified farmers…

  • … protect sensitive habitats and marine life
  • … reduce pollution and monitor water quality
  • … ensure good working conditions and fair pay
  • … ensure good feed for their fish
  • … restrict the use of antibiotics and medicines
  • … support local communities
  • … have a health plan in place

By getting the green ASC logo on your menu, you show your commitment to seafood sustainability and reward the over 1,000 seafood farms in 38 countries that have put in the effort to reduce their impacts. The right choice today means fish for the future!

The ASC works closely with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the certification and labelling programme for sustainably caught fish. Read more about the MSC in their latest blog for the SRA.

 

norwegian salmon farm