Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)
Certification for Farmed Fish and Seafood Production
What is Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)?
Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification assures buyers, retailers, and consumers that aquaculture production conforms to the world's leading standard for responsibly farmed fish and seafood. This certification demonstrates to retailers, consumers, and stakeholders that farmed products were raised responsibly from both an environmental and social perspective. SCS offers ASC services for the following standards: Salmon, Trout, Seriola/Cobia, Shrimp, Abalone, Tilapia, and Feed Mills. The ASC standards were created to recognize and reward responsible aquaculture, and the standards were developed through a collaborative and transparent process with scientists, conservation groups, NGOs, aquaculture producers, seafood processors, retail and food service companies, and consumers. Achieving ASC certification demonstrates that farmed products adhere to the highest standard of responsible aquaculture. Set your operation apart by becoming certified to ASC.
Why Choose SCS?
Achieving ASC Certification provides independent assurance to your customers that your farmed fish and seafood products comply with rigorous environmental and social criteria. We have expertise with all major farmed species including pangasius, tilapia, shrimp, salmon, trout, abalone, and bivalves. Unique among conformity assessment bodies, our staff scientists helped to develop three of the eight ASC standards and currently belong to the ASC Technical Advisory Group. With this expertise, we are well qualified to conduct your aquaculture farming and ASC Chain of Custody assessments, and can also bundle with seafood safety auditing.
Stakeholder comments pertaining to our ASC clients are welcomed at any time. Please visit our Stakeholder Review page here, for more information.
In addition, starting in 2023, SCS became the first certification body to receive provisional accreditation to certify to the new ASC Feed Standard. The standard requires that feed mills meet strict environmental and social requirements; source ingredients from socially responsible suppliers; and use environmentally responsible raw materials. Companies interested in learning more about this certification can reach out to an SCS team member here.
- Full Assessment
- Pre-Assessment (Optional)
- Program Documents
Any aquaculture producer who farms one of the species covered by the ASC standards can take part in the ASC certification program.
SCS offers pre-assessments for the following ASC standards:
- Bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops)
- Freshwater Trout
SCS is accredited to perform full-assessments for ASC Salmon, Abalone, Tilapia and Bivalves, and is currently a formal applicant for the ASC Shrimp standard. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming certified against additional ASC standards.
Accreditation (the ability to issue certificates) is open for the ASC Salmon, Pangasius and Tilapia standards. Accreditation for the bivalves, abalone, shrimp and freshwater trout standards is expected to open soon. SCS will make accreditation decisions according to demand. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming certified against any of these standards.
To receive certification, a client fishery must meet or exceed the minimum standards for legality, including: land and water usage; pollution and waste management; genetics and biodiversity; feed management; health management; veterinary medicines and chemicals; and social accountability.
SCS Global Services can conduct pre-assessments against any of the ASC standards, whether in draft or final form. Pre-assessments allow producers to determine their conformity to emerging or existing ASC standards and identify any improvements needed. This sets producers up to be among the first companies certified, and to demonstrate to buyers their firm commitment to supplying ASC certified products.
A pre-assessment includes:
- Gap analysis of your operations against the standard
- Report identifying areas of improvement
To achieve certification, pre-assessment of any publically available standard is followed by a formal full assessment. Cost considerations for full assessment include the extent of production, the number and type of improvements needed, and the steps needed to audit these changes (e.g., is an onsite audit needed, what auditing skill set is required).
SCS offers pre-assessments for the following species:
- Bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops)
- Freshwater Trout
SCS evaluates the qualifications of your aquaculture operation and determines what risks, if any, may limit your ability to successfully complete a rigorous and comprehensive assessment.
On-Site Farm Audit
SCS conducts a full farm assessment, following procedures described in the ASC's Farm Assessment Methodology. An independent assessment team reviews documentation, interviews stakeholders and evaluates aquaculture operations against specific environmental and social practices.
Audit Report and Public Comment
The SCS certification team writes a draft report, which is reviewed by the client and two independent peer reviewers. Information that relates to competitive advantage may be removed from the audit report at this point, in agreement with the assessment team.The report is then posted for public comment.
After considering all comments, a final report is released that includes the final decision on whether or not to award certification. If no objections have been raised, the public certification report is published and your aquaculture operation receives a certificate from SCS.
Certificates are valid for three years. Certification is subject to random surveillance audits in which critical control points such as harvest are observed.
ASC Certification provides independent assurance to your customers that your farmed fish and seafood products comply with rigorous environmental and social criteria, leading to the following benefits:
- Access to new markets and clients
- Increased sales to existing clients
- Reinforced company reputation
- Price premiums
- Increased worker and shareholder satisfaction
- Increased governmental recognition and support
- Access to development funding
What makes ASC different from other aquaculture standards?
ASC is the gold standard among aquaculture standards. The ASC Standards were created by an open and transparent multi-stakeholder initiative, convened by the World Wildlife Fund. ASC was built following the most stringent methods for standards setting, and is a scheme with credibility elements that conform to the FAO Guidelines for Ecolabelling and the ISEAL Alliance Code of Conduct. Choosing ASC means that your certificate will show that your operation has been third-party audited to a stringent level of performance, via a label established collaboratively by public interest groups, industry and academia. Many other standards are industry-founded, may not be third-party audited, may not have transparent governance structures, or may not have provided the opportunity for stakeholder engagement.
The ASC standard requires audits by assessment teams with strict and extensive technical requirements that are not applied in many other certification schemes for aquaculture.
How much does it cost to become ASC certified?
Costs will vary depending on the location, size and complexity of your aquaculture operation. We will tailor a quote for you based on information in your application form.
How long does the assessment take?
The length of the assessment will depend on a variety of factors including the size and complexity of the farm. The actual farm audit takes between 1 and 4 days, undertaken by a two to three person assessment team.
How long is an ASC certificate valid?
The certificate is valid for maximum of one year from the date of issue.
What seafood clients have been certified by SCS?
SCS has already undertaken a number of confidential pre-assessments against the Shrimp, Bivalve, Abalone and Salmon standards, and is actively involved in pilot projects for ASC.
With over ten years experience in MSC fisheries management certification, SCS is well positioned to offer ASC Responsible Aquaculture certification.
Where can I see a list of all farms that SCS certifies?
For the most up-to-date information regarding certified farms and farms in assessment, see the ASC Website’s ASC Website's Find A Farm/ Supplier feature.
Ready to start the process? Complete an Application.
SCS Certified Clients
Learn more about the clients we certify and where to find products with this certification.