Aquaculture advancement: Thai Union project to improve shrimp supply sustainability certification

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Thai Union has signed on to be part of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) new sustainability booster programme. ©Getty Images
Thai Union has signed on to be part of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) new sustainability booster programme. ©Getty Images

Related tags Thai Union aquaculture shrimp

Seafood giant Thai Union has signed up to be part of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s (ASC) new sustainability booster programme, with 15,700 metric tonnes of shrimp in its supply chain to be included by 2026.

Aquaculture has a reputation as one of the most complicated sectors in which to achieve sustainability certifications, a fact that is well-recognised by the ASC as the global organisation fronting the sustainability transformation charge for the industry.

This has led to the creation of its new ASC Improver Programme, which looks to provide easier access to sustainability certification for aquaculture producers.

“ASC [aims to] transform the aquaculture industry towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility, [but we know] not all aquaculture producers are able to meet our robust and strict standards’ requirements,”​ ASC Global Lead Improver Programme Roy van Daatselaar said via a formal statement.

The launch of this framework, together with the support and investment that ASC aims to provide to the sector, will be a game changer to the industry.

“Processors and seafood importers can now start an AIP within their supply chain and receive direct support from the ASC in the form of capacity building.”

The programme targets aquaculture farms that are not yet ready or eligible for ASC certification, but are looking to make significant improvements – to do this, the programme offers two tracks, either the AIP to ASC certification route which will help the producers get to a stage where they are ready to begin ASC certification; or the AIP to Better Practices route which will help the producers improve responsible practices in specific areas though not necessarily work towards ASC certification.

The ASC has found one of its first partners in seafood industry heavyweight Thai Union, which has signed on to utilise the AIP model for the production of 15,700 metric tonnes of shrimp coming from its supply chain.

“Thai Union will be one of the first setting up an AIP under the Improver Programme by ASC which aims to bring more than 4,000 metric tonnes up to ASC certification,”​ Thai Union Chief Sustainability Officer Adam Brennan said.

“[Following that will be] another 11,700 metric tonnes in volume that are implementing best practices in line with the social and water quality requirements of the ASC Standards.

“We have added Responsible Aquaculture as a new commitment within our SeaChange® 2030 strategy [and] in July already committed to 100% of our shrimp and its feed being produced with minimal ecosystem impact and meeting industry best practices in welfare and working conditions; and that 100% of the farms we source from [will be from] a safe and decent workplace by 2030.

“With the framework that ASC has introduced, we are able to work with our suppliers on clear action plans, tracking, and verification in a way that wasn’t standardised in the past.”

New framework, new progress

The aquaculture sector previously did not have any form of clearly defined improvement project framework, making this the first structured approach for monitoring and implementation in this area for the industry.

“The aquaculture industry [has not had] structured improvement like the fisheries improvements space has had,”​ van Daatselaar added.

“So for the first time, ASC has set a structured approach to monitor AIP progress, where each AIP will with a baseline measurement [and] progress needs to be reported on a regular basis, which will be verified by independent entities [and] all this info will be public on the ASC website.

“Seafood companies can now play an active role in steering producers within their supply chain towards entering an AIP that allows visibility of progress and performance over time, clarity on actions and investments required to improve performance, and to bring farms to a level that allows them to apply for ASC certification.”

The ASC will be looking at expanding its scope to more markets and more aquaculture species apart from shrimp moving forwards.

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