The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is launching a public consultation on what it is calling "major improvements" to its certification program, which include an aligned farm standard covering all certified species.

Currently, the ASC manages a number of separate farm standards covering different species. While those standards all provide a set of environmental and social requirements, they can vary on some areas that are common across aquaculture.

The aligned standard will cover all of these common impacts in one “robust and thorough standard," which includes species-specific requirements, but also impacts that are common to most aquaculture production methods such as siting, energy emissions, escapes and water use.

This means that culture-system impacts will be “holistically covered” while species-specific impacts will be retained.

By developing one comprehensive standard covering all these impacts, ASC said it will be able to respond to changes in the markets and industry more swiftly.

ASC is also considering expanding its Chain of Custody (CoC) requirements, which provide traceability along the entire supply chain, ensuring that only certified seafood is sold with the ASC label.

Since 2012, ASC has used the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) CoC certification to cover ASC-certified product supply chains, but additional requirements are needed due to differences in producing farmed and wild seafood.

The new requirements will be in addition to the existing MSC CoC requirements, and will apply only to ASC CoC certificate holders.

As the ASC program grows, a new suite of assurance activities and tools to address emergent issues such as seafood fraud, food safety and use of substances such as antibiotics are needed, said ASC.

“Both of these consultations concern important innovations in the ASC program, and as always we want to use the knowledge and experience of our stakeholders to ensure these improvements are as effective as they can be,” said ASC CEO Chris Ninnes.

The consultations will run for two months, from March 8 to May 7.