Seaweed standard to be created

8 Mar 2016

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have announced that they are working together to create a joint global standard for certifying seaweed operations.

Seaweed standard to be created

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have announced that they are working together to create a joint global standard for certifying seaweed operations, saying that the collaboration offers the unique opportunity to build on the expertise of the two leading seafood certification and labelling programs. The Seaweed Standard will, the organisations said, contribute to the health of the world’s aquatic ecosystems by promoting environmentally sustainable and socially responsible use of seaweed resources.

With seaweed production increasing alongside demand for certification, the MSC and ASC said they recognise the importance of having a global standard that rewards environmentally sustainable and socially responsible seaweed production, and provides a benchmark for improvement.

“The Seaweed Standard will demonstrate mutual sustainability principles and standard systems, referencing best available scientific understanding and industry practices that conform to international norms of good conduct, including FAO Guidelines for Ecolabelling and ISEAL Codes of Good Practice,“ said David Agnew, Science and Standards Director of the MSC.

“A responsible approach is critical to minimising the environmental and social footprint of commercial seaweed production,” said Bas Geerts, Standards Director for ASC. “Through collaboration we can create a meaningful standard with value for all stakeholders, while promoting environmental integrity and supporting the local communities that rely on seaweed production.”

Interested parties are invited to view the proposed Seaweed Standard and certification process, and share their expertise and feedback through an online consultation open until 30 April 2016.

The standard will allow certification from both wild harvest and farmed seaweed, regardless of the scale or location of the operation. The assessment of seaweed farms and fisheries will be guided by five core principles: sustainable populations; minimising environmental impacts; effective management; social responsibility; and community relations and interactions.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation around 25 million tonnes of seaweeds and other algae are harvested, representing over 15% of the total world fisheries and aquaculture production globally, with an estimated annual value of $5.65 billion. Wild harvest supports a significant portion of the industry, however seaweed aquaculture has grown rapidly to meet increasing demand.

In 2016 and 2017, scientists, industry, conservation groups, other interested stakeholders and the public are invited to contribute to help shape the ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard.