Tasmanian company becomes first salmon farm to achieve “gold standard” ASC certification across all sites

Tasmanian salmon producer Tassal has today announced Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification across all their salmon farming operations.

In a first for any salmon company in the world, this achievement puts Tassal at the forefront of responsible global salmon aquaculture.

With global demand for seafood increasing, many of the world’s main fishing areas are being fished at maximum capacity, and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than half of fish consumed globally by 2021 will be farmed seafood.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing animal food producing sector in the world, seeking to meet the growing demand for seafood, while reducing pressure on wild capture fisheries.

Tassal has been moving towards reaching full ASC certification since 2012, working in partnership with WWF-Australia to further develop its responsible aquaculture practices.

WWF recognises ASC certification as the highest global standard available for responsibly farmed seafood; providing credible, third-party validation for practices which reduce impacts on the marine environment, protecting local surroundings and wildlife, and supporting local communities.

To meet the ASC’s responsible Salmon Standard, Tassal implemented significant upgrades, including:

  • Reducing reliance of fish meal and fish oil in feed; resulting in reduced pressure on wild fish stocks and less pressure on the environment through improved feed formulations. Tassal is a global-leader in this area, with one of the lowest Feeder Fish Dependency Ratios (FFDR) in the world, and together with feed supplier Skretting, is continuing to lower this ratio
  • Removing the last copper treated nets from the water in June this year, replacing them with Kikko nets, made from semi-rigid polyester monofilament – an investment of $10 million
  • Creation of a full ASC dashboard which reports in real time any antibiotic use, wildlife interactions or unexplained fish loss across all of Tassal’s marine sites. All reports are available publically online and are fully audited
  • Development of a new fish health department, including onsite lab, two vets, a fish health field officer and lab technician, as well as the development of a zero harm fish welfare program

As the country’s leading salmon producer, ASC-certified salmon from Tassal now accounts for more than 50% of the Australian salmon market.

Head of Sustainability at Tassal, Linda Sams, said, “According to predictions Australia is expected to import over 1 million tonnes of seafood by 2020 – incredible considering the country’s potential to farm our own stocks locally. There is a clear opportunity here for local growth to meet the demand for responsibly produced salmon.

“We have invested a huge amount of time, resources and money into ensuring all of our sites not only reach, but exceed the standards set by the ASC; the global benchmark for responsible aquaculture.”

According to Ms Sams, the Australian aquaculture industry performs well in setting and implementing environmental regulations, but lacks transparency.

“Transparency was a key focus for us and is why we created our annual sustainability report, our ASC dashboard, and why we ensure our data is fully audited before being put into the public domain. This level of transparency is one which we feel genuinely sets us apart from others in the industry.”

Speaking about Tassal’s plans, Mark Ryan, CEO of Tassal said, “Sustainability is an inherent part of our culture and makes up a big part of who we are, as we aspire to world leadership in responsible aquaculture production.

“Our partnership with WWF-Australia has been an important part of working practically to achieve and maintain the highest levels of certification. To achieve ASC accreditation in all of our sites, ahead of our 2015 target, is something that we are extremely proud of.” Mr Ryan said.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said that WWF supports voluntary certification schemes such as the ASC as a credible way for businesses to demonstrate sustainability and gain recognition in the marketplace, by meeting rigorous independent standards.

“Tassal’s demonstrated ability to reach ASC standards for all environmental criteria, including nutrient management and monitoring, is a great example of an Australian company leading in the global marketplace,” Mr O’Gorman said.