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New benchmark tool enhances evaluation of seafood certifications

June 24, 2022  By  Nestor Arellano

An aquatic life welfare body has released a benchmark tool that analyzes current welfare requirements of existing certifications for seafood farming. The new certification benchmark tool is meant to help companies involved in seafood purchasing, according to the Aquatic Life Institute (ALI).

The tool will help companies make more informed choices about certified products entering their supply chain, and allow the public to be better informed about practices associated with seafood production, according to the institute. The tool, which will be updated annually, will also assist certification schemes that are lagging behind in aquatic animal welfare, by shedding light on improvements that will allow them to stay relevant.

ALI is a collection of  nonprofits, academic institutions, industry stakeholders who work towards goal of reducing aquatic animal suffering.  To create the aquaculture certification benchmark tool the institute “engaged with certification schemes for over two years, to ensure that standard language be updated to include animal welfare,” a press release from ALI said.

The certifiers evaluated by ALI included Global Animal Partnership (GAP), RSPCA assured, Naturland, Friend of the Sea, Global G.A.P and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).

“Certifications are widely used by the aquaculture industry in order to verify the practices carried out on farms,” according to the institute. “Unfortunately, until very recently, most certification labels did not include meaningful animal welfare interventions, and focused only on aspects such as environmental impact or food safety, and excluded individual animal welfare considerations.”

The areas of evaluation include environmental enrichment, space requirements and stocking density, stunning and slaughter, feeding practices and water quality.

ALI’s report also recognizes the newly released Global Animal Partnership Atlantic salmon welfare standard, as the most welfare-comprehensive standard to date.

“This standard incorporates the latest science-based interventions to improve welfare for farmed salmon,” according to ALI. “Certified facilities must include enrichments at all life stages, adhere to strict stocking density limits, monitor water quality on a daily basis, and comply with adequate stunning and slaughter requirements. It also includes a novel ban on insects in farmed fish feed. Insect farming is a potentially significant industry of concern due to the unknown animal welfare consequences and negative environmental impacts throughout the production cycle.”

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