ASC and MSC Collaborate to Create Global Seaweed Standard

Two leading seafood certification and labeling programs, Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), joined forces to develop a joint global standard for certifying seaweed operations. The Seaweed Standard promotes environmentally sustainable and socially responsible use of seaweed resources in order to contribute to the world’s aquatic ecosystems.

Twenty-five million metric tons of seaweed are harvested annually, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This represents 15% of the total world's fisheries and aquaculture production globally, worth an estimated $5.65 billion. Seaweed and other algae are used in a variety of applications, including food, cosmetics and fertilizer to name a few. Naturally, they are critical to the aquatic ecosystem, providing food and habitats to range of marine organisms.

Given the demand for certification and increasing seaweed production, ASC and MSC recognize the importance of a global standard that rewards sustainable seaweed production and provides a benchmark for improvement that other companies can use as an example. “The Seaweed Standard will demonstrate mutual sustainability principles and standard systems, referencing best available scientific understanding and industry practices that conform to international norms of good conduct, including FAO Guidelines for Ecolabelling and ISEAL Codes of Good Practices,” says David Agnew, science and standards director of the MSC.

Five core principles will guide the assessment of the farms and fisheries: sustainable populations, minimizing environmental impacts, effective management, social responsibility, and community relations and interactions.

“A responsible approach is critical to minimizing the environmental and social footprint of commercial seaweed production," says Bas Geerts, standards director for ASC. "Through collaboration we can create a meaningful standard with value for all stakeholders, while promoting environmental integrity and supporting the local communities that rely on seaweed production.”  

Interested parties can view the proposed standards and certification process and provide feedback until April 30, 2016.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online 3/7/2016