Aquaculture for all

Scottish Sea Farms puts ASC certification drive on ice

Fisheries Atlantic Salmon Health +11 more

Scottish Sea Farms have decided to put their continued participation in ASC certification on hold, as they feel that the organisation's new salmon standards do not align with their vision of best practices and salmon welfare.

ASC salmon standard certification is supposed to ensure gold standard farming practices, though Scottish Sea Farms raises this may not be the case with latest changes

© Scottish Sea Farms

Since its development, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) salmon standard certification programme is something Scottish Sea Farms says it has held in high regard.

Scottish Sea Farms note that the ambitions of the ASC salmon standard align with their own - more specifically, to set a benchmark for environmentally and socially responsible salmon farming.

As such, they have emphasised their pride in gaining, as well as retaining, certification of three farms, with a further three farms currently midway through the certification process.

Are ASC changes for the best?

However, over recent months the ASC salmon standard in Scotland has seen several changes; changes that vary from other salmon producing countries. And Scottish Sea Farms believes that the new guidelines are not in the best interest of their fish.

They claim that in some instances, certification stipulates that they should intervene in fish health when they state their own veterinarians have advised that the salmon are best left alone.

It was also noted that in other cases, they have been required by ASC to adopt alternative interventions to the ones their fish health professionals have determined to be most appropriate, having weighed up all the key factors.

Withdrawal, for now

The result of these differences has been the decision of Scottish Sea Farm to pause ASC certification. They have stated the decision in their eyes favours their fish health and welfare, presenting a detailed veterinary case for why their fish should be exempted.

Realistic that both the climate and marine environment continue to change and challenge them, Scottish Sea Farms believe they can only see the situation becoming more nuanced and complex.

With this in mind, whilst they reassure that they still believe wholeheartedly in the overarching premise of the ASC Salmon Standard, they claim they have taken the decision, in the best interests of their fish, to voluntarily withdraw from the scheme.

Though they have made this decision now, they note that they seek to discuss the issues posed with the ASC directly in the hope of helping shape, in their opinion, a more informed, science-based standard that draws on the experiences of those on the front-line of salmon farming.

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