The ASC and MSC open public consultation for the joint Seaweed Standard
According to the FAO (2014), about 25 million tonnes of seaweeds and other algae are harvested annually with an estimated total annual value of US$ 5.65 billion. Seaweeds are used widely in food, cosmetics, fertilizers, and are processed to extract thickening agents or used as an additive in animal feed. Globally, seaweeds play a key role in aquatic ecosystems, coastal protection and are a valuable resource for coastal communities. These primary producers provide a foundation for many marine food webs and form important habitats for associated marine flora and fauna. Over exploitation of seaweed may have detrimental effects on biodiversity, water quality and can increase coastal erosion (FAO, 1990).
With global seaweed production increasing along with demand for certification of the seaweed industry, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) recognize the importance of having a standard that rewards sustainable seaweed production, and provides a benchmark for improvement. The MSC and ASC have agreed to build on each other’s expertise and work together to develop a Seaweed Standard for certifying globally sustainable socially responsible seaweed operations. This decision to collaborate was made by both the MSC and ASC Boards and officially commenced in September 2014.
The joint vision is to contribute to the health of the world’s aquatic ecosystems by creating a certification standard to recognize, and reward environmentally sustainable and socially responsible seaweed harvesting and farming practices. The standard aims to:
• Be applicable to global wild harvest and cultured seaweed operations of all sizes
• Promote sustainable and socially responsible seaweed operations
• Provide consistent assessment of global operations through best practice benchmarking
• Provide incentives for improvements through ASC and MSC’s theories of change
• The standard will reference available scientific understanding and international best practice guidelines.
The MSC and ASC recently launched a second 60-day public consultation on the joint Seaweed standard. Interested parties are invited to view the proposed Seaweed Standard and share their expertise and feedback through an online consultation open until 30 April. The standard will allow certification from both wild harvest and farmed seaweed, regardless of the scale or location of the operation. The assessment of seaweed farms and fisheries will be guided by five core principles: sustainable populations; minimising environmental impacts; effective management; social responsibility; and community relations and interactions. You can find more information on how to submit comments at https://improvements.msc.org/database/seaweed-standard/consultations
Oyster Farm is First to Gain ASC Certification in France
Huitres Favier Earl has become the first farm in France to achieve ASC certification. The French oyster producer received a cluster certification for its La Tremblade and Paimpol units. The company was awarded the certificate in recognition of their responsible environmental and social practices from Control Union Peru, an independent accredited certifier, after an audit to certify that the farm meets the ASC Bivalve Standards.
“We are glad to receive ASC certification. The quality of the natural environment has a direct impact on our business. The oysters are our sentinels. They inform us on the good conditions of the marine environment. We are in the front line, and we know what can happen if the water quality declines. We feel it is important to respect nature and it is therefore natural for us to join the ASC”, said Philippe Favier, Hitres Favier Earl Director.
“I am delighted to welcome Huitres Favier Earl to the ASC”, said Esther Luiten, ASC Commercial Director. “The consumption of seafood is high in France and according to a recent survey by Global Scan, French consumers are ready to change their consumption habits in favour of sustainable alternatives. This trend is creating increasing demand for certified responsible aquaculture and French retailers are becoming more and more enthusiastic about the ASC certification”.
Huitres Favier Earl is located on the left bank of the Seudre River, in the heart of the Marennes Oleron Basin, in Southern-West France. The farm comprises over 300,000 m2 of sea beds and 160,000 m2 of “Claires” (where fresh and sea water blend together), which makes it possible to permanently shelter 15 to 20 million oysters at different stages of rearing. The establishment of the company dates back to 1966 and since then, five generations of oyster farmers have succeeded one another in the region.
Huitres Favier Earl sells between 9 and 10 million oysters each year. Its oysters are supplied to the French retailer Carrefour and exported to many different countries in Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.
“We market our oysters mainly abroad. Our customers are already actively committed to sustainability issues, so it was essential to be able to provide certified responsibly farmed products. The ASC logo brings a positive image to our company and our products. It is obviously an asset for our company”, said Dominique Favier, Huitres Favier Earl Commercial Manager.
The French aquaculture sector was one of the first to develop in Europe and France has become one of the leading countries in terms of volume produced. The industry is mainly focused on oysters and mussels and, according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it generates a gross income of around €600 million (US$ 649 million), providing jobs opportunity to 20,000 people in 3,700 farms. Farmed shellfish is mainly marketed locally. However, Pacific oysters are also sold in Italy, Belgium, and Germany.
The ASC Bivalve Standards evaluate the performance of shellfish operations against criteria related to the natural environment and biodiversity; water resources and water quality; species diversity, including the protection of wild populations; disease and pest management and resource efficiency. The standards also address social issues related to a company’s engagement and support of local communities and the quality of the workplace for employees.