The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has updated its Salmon Standard to help address one of salmon farming's biggest challenges.
The revision, which focus specifically on sea lice management, will lead to more robustness in sampling and monitoring and immediate action, the group said.
The financial impact from sea lice on the global salmon farming industry is estimated to run between $600 million (€600 million) and $1 billion (€1 billion) annually, according to IntraFish estimates.
The potential impact of sea lice on wild salmonid populations is a major issue for the salmon industry, and the revised requirements address best practices in managing potential disease and parasite risks linked to sea lice.
The revised standard requires farms to not only monitor the sea lice species L. salmonis, but to also include the less-researched species, Caligus, where applicable, and to improve consistency of data collection and analysis.
The standard establishes a clear sea lice sampling protocol for farms detailing issues including frequency and sample size.
NGO SeaChoice criticized the new standard, saying it dramatically increases the number of sea lice allowed on certified farms.
"The revised standard removes the precautionary maximum sea lice limit, which was established through technical expertise and multi-stakeholder dialogues and was meant to hold farms to a higher standard than what is merely legally required of them," the group said.
There are currently 1,764 ASC certified farms across the globe, of which 599 are salmon farms. The launch of the revised standards will become effective by February 2023.