New aquaculture standards to be launched!

New aquaculture standards

We are excited to say that at the end of this month we will be launching a new set of revised aquaculture standards! For the first time this will include standards for organic seaweed production.

Globally, demand for farmed fish is increasing; aquaculture production now makes up more than 50% of global fish and shellfish supply. As the industry expands the organic sector can show there is a better way to farm, for animal welfare, water quality and human health. Worldwide a wide range of aquatic species is produced in line with organic principles including many different fish species, seaweed and bivalves (mussels, oysters and clams).

These standards are the first to complete the standards review process which we are carrying out for all areas covered by EU organic regulation. The result is a clearer document, including comprehensive guidance for licensees and a clear distinction between EU and Soil Association (SA) requirements. For each SA standard, there is a clear rationale.

Historically, the Soil Association has led the way defining organic aquaculture, particularly for Atlantic salmon and trout and the best practice within the sectors. Since they were first developed, many of the standards we advocated are now covered by the EU organic regulation, meaning we no longer need to specify them.
These revised SA aquaculture standards fully reflect the EU regulation and, in four areas, place higher requirements on licensees:

  1. A limit on the permitted withdrawal period for feed for farmed fish before harvest (standard AL b. page 13). Farmed fish become used to being fed regularly so the withdrawal of feed for prolonged periods is a welfare concern. However limited feed withdrawal prior to harvest has been shown to be beneficial to fish welfare.
  2. A requirement to follow recent guidance on the humane slaughter of fish, particularly because farmed fish are currently not covered by regulation protecting animals at the time of killing (standard AL g. page 15).
  3. A prohibition on using calcified seaweed, lithotamn or maerl in feeds for aquaculture livestock to protect the sensitive habitat of calcified seaweed beds from damaging harvesting (standard AF c. page 22).
  4. A prohibition on the use of organophosphate or avermectin-based veterinary medicines due to their detrimental effect on the aquatic environment, including sediment-dwelling organisms (standard VT f. page 29).

The standards have been developed with full engagement from the Aquaculture Standards Committee which has worked tirelessly during 2015 to get them to this point. In 2017 the Committee anticipates working on revising the remaining SA aquaculture standards chapters, for shrimp and carp.