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Cobia farm. (Photo: Open Blue)

First cobia farm receives ASC certification

  (PANAMA, 1/5/2018)

The Open Blue farm, in Panama, has become the world's first producer of cobia (Rachycentron canadum) certified according to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard.

To obtain certification, the farm was assessed by an independent auditor following strict requirements stipulated by the ASC Seriola and Cobia Standard.

"The Open Blue certification shows leadership in responsible aquaculture and is an example for cobia producers around the world, farms certified to the ASC standard contribute to environmental health, protect local communities and take care of workers. I look forward to welcoming more cobia farms to our program in the future," said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC.

The farm, located in the open waters of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Panama, is completely submerged at depths of up to 100 feet (335 meters).

"Achieving these key certifications marks an important milestone for us and our customers by 2018," said Chris Perry, CEO of Open Blue. "Our innovative approach is to raise and capture fish in the high seas in their natural ocean habitat in a responsible and sustainable way, which respects and protects our sensitive ocean ecosystems and respects the workers and the communities that surround us," he added.

The Seriola and Cobia Standard is the result of more than an eight-year-development by fish farmers, scientists, conservationists, industry representatives and other interested parties. The standard addresses the environmental and social impact associated with the cultivation of cobia, and consists of a set of measurable and performance-based requirements that farms must meet in order to obtain certification.

Certified cobia producers minimize their environmental and social impacts in several ways. Certified farms must measure water parameters, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and oxygen levels, and remain within established limits; fish escapes should be minimized and  medications use is prohibited before diagnosing a disease. There are strict limits for the use of wild fish as ingredients for food, and farms must guarantee full traceability to a source managed in a responsible manner.

From a social perspective, the cobia standard establishes strict requirements based on the basic principles of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which includes the prohibition of the use of child labor or any form of forced labor. In addition, all certified farms are safe and equitable work environments, where employees earn a decent salary and have regulated work schedules.

The Open Blue farm obtained its certification after a successful audit carried out last September by the SCS Global Services certifier.

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