Chance for fish farming sector and citizens to progress organic aquaculture standards

Chance for fish farming sector and citizens to progress organic aquaculture standards

The aquaculture sector and citizens are being given the chance to drive forward the highest standards of fish farming in the UK in a review of key Soil Association organic standards.

The Soil Association was one of the first organisations to develop organic standards for aquaculture – the farming of a wide variety of aquatic animals and plants.

Since first publication in 2002, many of those standards are now enshrined in UK and European law and some have even been adopted by the non-organic sector.

As a relatively youthful farming sector, innovation within fish farming is taking place at a fast pace and the Soil Association is therefore reviewing important standards, with public consultation opening in a month in late November.

Updates to the standards will focus on measures to improve welfare standards for Atlantic salmon and wrasse and lumpfish used as cleaner fish, alongside stricter rules for feed and managing sea lice to lessen potential impacts on the environment.

Soil Association Head of Standards Chris Atkinson said: “Organic farmers are pioneers in sustainable food production, and it is essential that our standards allow them to remain at the leading edge of best practice. As part of our policy to constantly keep all organic standards under review, we are proposing an update to our aquaculture standards to align them with the most recent research and updates to organic standards across Europe. We are seeking the views of anyone with an interest in the fish sector and sustainable food production to get involved with the consultation and to help us to ensure organic continues to drive forward standards of fish farming in the UK.”

Consultations on various organic standards

The first stage of the review is focusing on the standards for organic Atlantic salmon, with consultation starting in late November. The next stage of the review, in 2024, will look at other species and respond to expected developments in legislation around aquaculture from Scottish Government.

The aquaculture review is happening in tandem with a review of Soil Association organic standards for packaging and for farming and growing in Northern Ireland.

Details on the proposed changes and how people can get involved with both the aquaculture and Northern Ireland standards consultations will be released in mid-late November. The consultation on packaging standards closed last month.

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