Label products are to include more protection for fish: First step in the right direction
The ASC label stands for responsible fish farming and is meant to ensure a clean conscience when buying fish products. However, animal welfare has so far hardly been taken into account in the ASC standard. The Foundation for Animals in Law (TIR) therefore supported the petition launched by fair-fish for the inclusion of animal welfare criteria. It was handed over to the ASC which has reacted with a positive response.
However, the responsibility only covered the origin of the fish feed, a ban on genetic alterations in the animals, moderate use of antibiotics and compliance with minimum requirements regarding water quality. Criteria concerning handling and transport or killing of the animals were not taken into account. Information on the adverse effects of fish farming on animal welfare, the ecological consequences and the petition submitted at the end of 2017 can be found here.
In its statement, the ASC announced that it would "define scientifically based and species-specific criteria regarding fish welfare", which could later be "coupled with ASC farm standards as an optional module". This is a first big and welcome step in the right direction, even if TIR would prefer to see mandatory standards introduced.
In addition, other major international labels for sustainable fish farming - including "Friends of the Sea" (FOS) together with the umbrella organization fair-fish international and its research team - are now examining how they can incorporate animal welfare into their standards. The breakthrough leading to a change of opinion in fish farming is the result of years of campaigns by the organization fair-fish and its partner organizations in several countries and the financial support offered by the Californian Open Philanthropy Project, which promotes the development and introduction of such guidelines.
TIR would like to thank fair-fish for their tremendous efforts and everyone who signed and supported the petition addressed to the ASC label. In total, 22,884 signatures from Switzerland and Germany were collected. The reaction of ASC to the petition and the response by fair-fish are available here.