The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is the world’s leading certification scheme for farmed seafood. In 2022, the total global production of ASC certified seafood amounted to more than 1.9 million tonnes, which corresponds to 1.55% of the global aquaculture production , while certified fish accounted for 1.4 million tonnes , meaning 2.4% of the total finfish global production. Our certification programme uses market-based approaches that incentivise famers to achieve strict standards of environmental and social performance. Compliance with the requirements of ASC Standards can help to reduce farm’s environmental footprint, conserve natural resources and contribute to worker’s well being.
Currently, the ASC covers 17 species groups under 11 standards, plus a joint ASC-MSC standard for seaweed. They all provide industry leading, robust, environmental and social requirements, but because they have been developed at different times, their requirements vary on some of the impacts that are common across aquaculture. Therefore, ASC is currently aligning all 11 standards into one ASC Farm Standard . This will cover all impact areas and all currently certifiable species in one rigorous standard. Additionally, it will also allow the ASC to more efficiently expand its reach (e.g. adding production systems or new species) and will facilitate the swifter update to specific metrics. The ASC Farm Standard will include a core set of indicators and will monitor legal, social and environmental impacts consistently across species and regions and set species-specific limits where necessary (e.g., mortality levels, feed conversion, etc.). New species will be added to the ASC portfolio by applying common management and system specific indicators form the ASC Farm Standard. Additional species-specific indicators will be evaluated for addition when the current indicators do not align cover major impacts of the new species. As a matter of fact , the re is a huge potential for aquaculture volumes that are not within scope of the current 11 standards. This potential is explored by the ASC Species Scope Extension Project.
The next group of interest fo r the Scope Extension Pro ject is catfish , including the following species: Clarias gariepinus ; Ictalurus punctatus; Hybrid of Heterobranchus Longifilis X Clarias Gariepinus . The production of Clarias gariepinus has been exponentially increasing since the 1990s and peaked in 2015 with more than 250K tonnes of live weight produced in aquaculture (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2023) . The genus Clarias spp. accounts for 2.3 % of the total fish production in 2020, according to the FAO and it is a fish species with a remarkable potential for the development of freshwater aquaculture . They are air beathing species , meaning that they are highly adaptable, widely distributed geographically and tolerant to adverse conditions (Lisachov et al., 2023) . Ictalurus punctatus is also a species of high commercial interest worldwide . It is a key aquaculture species especially in North America and Asia (Wen et al., 2023). It has a high economic importance in China due to its adaptability and resistance (Yu et al., 2023) . Finally, catfish hybrids such as the “heteroclarias”( Heterobranchus Longifilis X Clarias Gariepinus) have been widely used to select ideal parental features for breeding fast growing, efficient and healthy fish (Sobczak et al., 2022) . Catfish and its hybrids are therefore gaining importance worldwide.
All these species seem to have competitive profit margins for large-scale production which is leading farmers to opt for more intensive aquaculture practices with associated social and environmental risk as well as risks for the fish welfare (Wise et al., 2023) . These risks will be covered by the implementation of the ASC Farm Standard with species- specific indicators . Thus, the ASC sees an urgent need to include these species the portfolio to actively address major concerns and issues .
Our goal is to involve relevant stakeholders in the content development, especially in regard to metric setting. To set credible metrics, data from literature and real farm data will be used. Expanding ASC’s scope to include the potential for catfish certification expands accessibility to ASC standards and increased the environmental and social benefits awarded through certification. Farmers also benefit from this scope extension as ASC certification allows them to drive additional revenue and income though access to global market demand, demonstrate commitment to responsible farming practices, workers, communities and to have access to education in effective and efficient farming. This is the next step to bring responsible catfish on our consumers’ tables!
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2023, April 26). Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822).
Lisachov , A., Nguyen, D. H. M., Panthum , T., Ahmad, S. F., Singchat , W., Ponjarat , J., Jaisamut , K., Srisapoome , P., Duengkae , P., Hatachote , S., Sriphairoj , K., Muangmai , N., Unajak, S., Han, K., Na-Nakorn , U., & Srikulnath , K. (2023). Emerging importance of bighead catfish (Clarias macrocephalus) and north African catfish (C. gariepinus ) as a bioresource and their genomic perspective. Elsevier , 739585.
Sobczak , M., Panicz , R., Sadowski, J., Półgęsek , M., & Żochowska-Kujawska , J. (2022). Does Production of Clarias gariepinus × Heterobranchus longifilis Hybrids Influence Quality Attributes of Fillets? Foods , 11(14). https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11142074
Wen, M., Pan, Q., Larson, W., Eché , C., & Guiguen, Y. (2023). Characterization of the sex determining region of channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and development of a sex-genotyping test. Gene , 850. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2022.146933
Wise, A. L., LaFrentz, B. R., Kelly, A. M., Liles, M. R., Griffin, M. J., Beck, B. H., & Bruce, T. J. (2023). The Infection Dynamics of Experimental Edwardsiella ictaluri and Flavobacterium covae Coinfection in Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Pathogens , 12(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens12030462
Yu, Y., Dong, L., Zhang, L., Gan, J., Peng, J., Liu, T., Chen, J., Lu, X., He, L., & Cheng, B. (2023). Effect of flowing water on the pharmacokinetic properties of norfloxacin in channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) after single-dose oral administration. Veterinary Medicine and Science. https://doi.org/10.1002/vms3.1108