The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has formed a partnership with Chinese environmental firm Qingdao Tao Ran Environmental Science and Technology (Tao Ran) to accelerate the growth of the ASC program in China.
Tao Ran has been contracted to lead the strategy implementation and to expand the adoption of ASC farm standards. The firm's aquaculture staff will also work with ASC to promote the availability of ASC-certified seafood for consumers within China, and in the many countries that buy aquaculture products from China.
"Our partnership with Tao Ran is a milestone for the ASC program," said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. "The ASC has seen rapid growth across Asia, and as China is the world leader in aquaculture production and consumption, it is crucial that we position the program to meet the increased demand for certification in the country."
In addition to an expansion of the existing work with China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), the partnership will pursue new initiatives with Chinese public research institutes, leading producers, as well as retail and food service sectors in the region.
“Leveraging local expertise will allow the ASC to respond effectively to interest by retail and foodservice partners and the growing community of farms seeking to improve their environmental performance and social standards to meet demand from the international marketplace," Ninnes said. "Tao Ran has the capacity to help the ASC make meaningful change in China, and will work with our global team to execute a cohesive strategy to transform aquaculture towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility."
As the ASC program expands in China, the number and capacity of certification assessment bodies (CABs) operating in China must also increase. Tao Ran's aquaculture expertise will assist CABs by providing local knowledge and coordinating ASC Standards training workshops for CAB assessors.
Tao Ran's agreement includes a long-term strategy to support the development, improvement and adaptation of ASC standards and engage and assist ASC Chain of Custody (CoC) certified companies. The agency will play a key role in both building new partnerships and strengthening existing ties with the Chinese seafood industry, affiliated associations, NGOs and key government agencies.
"By deeply rooting the ASC's leading certification and labeling program in the world's largest and oldest aquaculture producing country, aquaculture practitioners and seafood consumers around the globe will benefit," said Qing Fang, Tao Ran's aquaculture program leader. "Working together, we can improve the health of China's aquatic ecosystems by providing incentives to improve environmental operations and the conditions for those working on the farm and living in the surrounding communities. We are excited to be part of this great cause."
The agreement will also allow ASC to more easily secure participation and contribution from key Chinese aquaculture stakeholders in ASC's global projects including the Core Standard, the Marine Finfish Standard, the Responsible Feed Project, Multi-site Certification and the joint ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard.
Aquaculture represents 70 percent of total seafood production in China by volume and accounts for over 60 percent of world aquaculture production. China is also a major importer and consumer of aquaculture products.