Salmon farmer Grieg Seafood on Wednesday all five of its farms in British Columbia's Nookta Sound have received Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification, making Nootka Sound Grieg’s first fully ASC-certified farming region in the country.

The farms are located in the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation’s traditional territory and the nearby community of Gold River, said Kristin Storry, certifications manager at Grieg.

Grieg is currently pursuing ASC certification for its Sunshine Coast farms in BC in June, followed by its Barnes Bay farm in August.

The remainder of Grieg’s BC farms are on track for ASC certification by 2021, Storry said.

Kristin Storry, Certifications Manager for Grieg Seafood BC (right), and David Minato, Certifications Specialist at Grieg, pictured on their first ASC audit of Gore Island farm in 2019. Photo: Grieg Seafood

Overcoming logistical obstacles

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Grieg BC's certification process was somewhat disrupted.

In British Columbia, the two main certification bodies for salmon farming are the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and ASC.

Grieg was able to achieve BAP certification for all of its sites, but was in the middle of obtaining its first ASC multi-site certification at Nootka Sound when the COVID-19 crisis hit, Storry explained.

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Grieg made major logistical changes in order to conduct the certification audits while ensuring its employees' health and safety.

Storry noted the company's office staff stayed in a hotel during the process, isolated from the public, and traveled by float plane to farm sites instead of by ferry and vehicles to "reduce exposure to the public."

"We also took precautions while on the site. We maintained distance from each other, and employees used hand sanitizer -- multiple, multiple times -- as well as gloves," she added.