Aquamar ASC Certification

Earlier this month, Aquamar farm was certified by Control Union to meet the ISRTA (International Standard for Responsible Tilapia Aquaculture) Standard. The Public Review process for Produmar farm (the last step to achieve certification) has culminated and they are expected to receive accreditation by the end of this month. This will make Aquamar and Produmar the first farms in the Americas to be ISRTA compliant!

ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) certified farms limit their impact on the environment from the effects of water pollution, the use of chemicals and antibiotics and escapes of farmed fish. They also adhere to guidelines that promote the social conditions of workers and local communities.

In addition to ASC certification at the farm level, Tropack (both plants) became Chain of Custody certified on November 15, 2012. This certification allows us to supply the first ASC certified farmed tilapia which will soon hit the North American market.

The Chain of Custody Standard contains a set of technical and administrative requirements for the processing and handling of certified sustainable products at every stage of the supply chain. Chain of Custody certification assures that ASC certified seafood has indeed originated from a farmer certified against the ASC Standard.

The Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue (TAD), coordinated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), took five years and over 200 people to create global requirements designed to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of tilapia farming. The result was the ISRTA (International Standard for Responsible Tilapia Aquaculture) Standard, finalized in December 2009.

Tilapia farmers who adopt the standard prove that their seafood was farmed in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner. Tropical was involved in the development process through the collaboration of Alfonso Delfini Jr., late owner of Aquamar and founding member of Tropical, who whole-heartedly supported this initiative as a member of the TAD Steering Committee.

The ASC, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2010 by WWF and IDH (Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative) to manage the ISRTA. On May 3, 2011, the ISRTA was officially handed over by the WWF to the ASC during the press conference at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels. During the press conference, the ASC stated that the standard would go live later that year. However, in June 2011, Produmar and Aquamar farms had the opportunity to be audited during a trial period due to their early participation with the TAD. Both farms received Letters of Compliance under the ISRTA at that time.

While the ASC manages the standard and the certification process, they do not certify the farms themselves; this is done by independent certification bodies. It was not until March 21, 2012, that the accreditation (of certification bodies) was opened for the ISRTA.

For its Chain of Custody Standard the ASC works together with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), whereby the specific ASC Chain of Custody requirements have been added as an annex to the MSC Chan of Custody Standard. The MSC Chain of Custody Standard meets ISEAL and FAO best practice guidelines because it was developed through a multi-stakeholder process and has undergone several revisions based on real life experience all while being operational within the seafood sector for over 12 years.

For ASC, awarding the first farm in the Americas is another milestone. "Soon the first ASC tilapia will hit the market in America. The supply to Europe will also increase. This positive progress is a clear sign that ASC is reaching its full potential to become the world's leading certification and labeling programme for aquaculture", said Chris Ninnes, ASC CEO.

November 7, 2012 - Tropical Aquaculture is extremely proud to announce that Aquamar S.A. is the first Tilapia farming operation in the Americas to achieve the ASC Certification for Responsible Tilapia Farming (ISRTA).

ASC is the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, an independent non-profit organization. The ASC was founded in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) to manage the global standards for responsible aquaculture, which were developed by the Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogues (TAD), a program of roundtables initiated and coordinated by WWF.

Aquamar has been committed to the development of the ISRTA since the beginning, when the late Alfonso Delfini Jr., owner and farm manager of Aquamar and founding member of Tropical was appointed to the TAD Steering Committee. "Sustainability has been a passion for our family and our company from day one. ASC Certification is the culmination of over 6 years of hard work for our farm and is a testament of Alfonso Jr.'s legacy to our farm, and the tilapia farming community", said Enrico Delfini, present owner of Aquamar.

Aquamar is one of the largest tilapia farming facilities in Ecuador and the Americas, producing approximately 13,000 tons of live tilapia per year in a land based pond aquaculture system.