Tilapia being harvested at a farm. (Photo: RFA/ascworldwide.org)
ASC launches accreditation process for tilapia
Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) this week launched its first standard into the market with its accreditation process for tilapia. Certifiers can now apply to become accredited, and accreditation allows them to carry out the first farm assessments against the ASC Tilapia Standard.
An independent accreditation body, Accreditation Services International (ASI), takes care of accreditation.
The standards are the product of nearly five years of work by the 200-plus participants of the Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue (TAD).
"Not only is this is a crucial moment in the countdown to our market launch of ASC-certified farmed seafood, it also represents a time to celebrate all the hard work that has been undertaken by so many supporters to develop and deliver the ASC Tilapia standard,” stated Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC.
He said that the supporters’ engagement during the dialogue process bred a robust and trustworthy standard that is globally-recognised.
|Farmed tilapia. (Photo: ascworldwide.org)
Approximately 2.3 million tonnes of tilapia are produced annually, and 73 per cent of that amount is farmed. Most of it is raised in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Most tilapia is imported to the US, the European Union (EU) and Japan. Costa Rica, Honduras and Ecuador are important suppliers of fresh tilapia fillets to the US.
The main effects of tilapia aquaculture are effluents in the water caused by the release of excess nutrients from food and into the environment; compromise of ecological integrity of aquaculture facilities, such that overstocking and other factors can make tilapia ill; pollution from feed and/or fertilizer used at fish farming facilities; invasive species such as nonnative tilapia that escape and compete with native fish species; and socioeconomic impacts, since employing many workers can raise issues of labour practices and workers’ rights.
“For some the conclusion of the dialogue did not mark the end of their endeavor. Their work continued, aided by a number of technical experts, as they turned the standard into an operational programme that can be applied consistently worldwide by a cadre of trained auditors," he added.
Jose Villalon, chair of the ASC's Supervisory Board agrees about the importance of involving trained auditors.
"Before certifiers can start their farm-based assessments they must have demonstrated their competence, integrity and ability to carry out credible audits in an independent and objective manner. This is in part realised through mandatory ASC auditor training, but also through the conformity assessment that is part of the accreditation process," he elaborated.
Ninnes also noted that the Council's use of third-party and independent accreditation and certification processes will buttress the long-term credibility of ASC’s standards and ultimately the effectiveness of its organisation to achieve its goal. Said effectiveness is founded on the Council's independent governance structure which actively seeks broad stakeholder engagement, he said.
By Natalia Real