The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) announced on November 1 that the Seriola and Cobia Aquaculture Dialog is complete. The final Seriola and Cobia standard is the result of more than 8 years of development by farmers, scientists, conservationists, and others with a shared vision of ending practices that can cause harm to the environment and negatively impact workers, in order to move the overall aquaculture industry towards sustainability.
“The completion of the Seriola and Cobia standard allows the ASC to get ever closer to our ultimate goal of transforming global aquaculture to a more sustainable basis,” said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. “This standard is a testament to the hundreds of professionals who joined in the Dialogue and gave of their time and expertise throughout this extensive process. We are pleased to have worked with them to deliver a standard that will protect the environment and help farmers, workers, and local communities.”
“As one of the leading seafood retailers in Japan, AEON welcome the ASC Seriola and Cobia Standard,” said Kinzou Matsumoto, General Manager, Seafood Department, Food Merchandising Planning Division, AEON Retail Co., Ltd. “Both species are widely consumed in Japan, and AEON will supply this responsibly farmed seafood to a wide range of customers. This will help to familiarize them with ASC certification, and allow AEON to strengthen their commitment to sustainability and carry on Japan’s rich food traditions to the next generation.”
Seriola are commonly known as amberjack, yellowtail kampachi, hamachi and hiramasa. The standard was developed for both seriola and cobia because production methods for the two species are similar and the knowledge and expertise necessary to create a standard are the same. Most Seriola is farmed in Japan, but farms can also be found in Australia, South America and the United States among many other regions. Cobia production has increased greatly in recent years and it has become an important aquaculture species in the United States, Puerto Rico, Belize and many parts of Asia.
The Seriola and Cobia Dialogue formally began in Seattle, Washington in early 2009 with a public meeting to set the goals and objectives of the Dialogue. As the process continued, several additional public meetings were held in locations around the world, including Mexico and Japan. Over the course of the Dialogue, participants identified the key environmental and social impacts associated with the farming of four types of seriola (S. rivoliana, S. quinqueradiata, S. dumerilli and S. lalandi) and cobia. The information was used to determine the principles most important to addressing the impacts of Seriola and Cobia farming and the indicators to measure the extent of each impact. This information provided the framework for creating measurable, performance-based standards for the responsible farming of the two species.
All reports, presentations and documents related to the Dialogue were publically posted online. The process also included multiple periods for public comment to the draft principles, criteria, indicators and full draft of the standards for seriola and cobia as each become available. The ASC is responsible for setting and maintaining the standards, but farms must undergo an audit to determine whether they are eligible to become certified by an independent certification and assessment body (CAB). Auditors, and the CABs that employ them, are fully objective and not connected to the ASC. Only CABs that have been accredited and monitored by another independent accreditation organization, Accreditation Services International (ASI), can determine whether a farm meets the ASC standard criteria to become certified.