Global groups denounce latest Best Aquaculture Practices salmon farm standard as 'greenwash'

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/HowardOates
Image: Getty/HowardOates

Related tags aquaculture

More than 70 environmental, animal welfare, and community groups from 18 countries have criticised the industry trade association Global Seafood Alliance’s latest version of the Best Aquaculture Practices certification.

In an open letter, submitted on the final day of the public consultation for BAP Salmon Farm Standard issue 3.0, the groups criticised the new standard for failing to have limits on critical environmental impacts such as sea lice, disease, chemicals, and water quality. Instead, they claimed, the standard relies on ‘farms meeting their minimal legal obligations and following business as usual practices’.

“There is mounting evidence that environmental harms and human rights abuses are occurring despite the ‘responsible seafood’ claims of BAP and other certifications. The new BAP Standard is no exception. Farms in Chile’s marine protected areas will be eligible for certification; so will farms in Canada, Scotland and Norway with sea lice loads that are lethal to juvenile wild salmon; as well as Australian farms that are driving the endangered Maugean skate towards extinction,” said Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans Society.

A significant number of major supermarkets – such as global giants Amazon, Walmart and ALDI; Loblaws and Target in North America; Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK; and Woolworths and Coles in Australia – defer to the BAP certification as part of the responsible seafood sourcing policies.

“Major supermarkets must quit relying on these flawed certifications, stop the greenwashing, and do their own environmental and human rights due diligence on their seafood supply chains,” said Dana Cleaveley, SeaChoice.

Rachel Mulrenan, Scotland Director at WildFish, added: “Years of involvement by certification bodies such as BAP, RSPCA Assured and ASC has not translated into any meaningful improvements in the environmental and welfare performance of open-net salmon farms across the globe. If they are to be credible, certification schemes need to have stringent requirements, which are robustly enforced. “Unfortunately, research conducted by WildFish, Living Oceans, SeaChoice and others shows that this is currently not the case. If these schemes aren’t going to properly hold the industry to account, then their existence risks being little more than a greenwashing operation, which misleads consumers and obscures the true cost of this inherently unsustainable industry.”

GSA: ‘the standards are developed under an internationally recognised process’

In response, a spokesperson from the GSA said that the BAP Standards “are developed and maintained under an internationally recognised process that includes an expert Technical Committee for standard development, a 60-day Public Comment Period, and approval by a 12- to 15-member Standards Oversight Committee (SOC) consisting of academia, NGO, and industry experts.”

The SOC’s consideration of comments leads to a final draft that must be approved by the Technical Committee, SOC, and the GSA Board of Directors before implementation, it explained. BAP Standard audits are conducted by accredited third-party certification bodies at least once per year and producers must meet all criteria and correct all non-conformities before certification is granted.   

The GSA public comment period for the BAP Salmon Farm Standard Issue 3.0 closed on May 5, 2024.

“All comments received during the period will be carefully considered for inclusion in the final draft, individually addressed, and made publicly available on the BAP website,” the spokesperson added.

“The Salmon Farm Standard 3.0 Public Draft version was modified to expand the overall comprehensiveness of the standard assessment. Significant changes were made to social responsibility, wildlife, and predator interactions.”

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