UTRECHT (NETHERLANDS) - September 7, 2023 - Following successful pilots in different countries, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has presented the development of a framework for credible Aquaculture Improvements Projects (AIPs) under the ASC Improver Programme at this week's Global Shrimp Forum. ASC secured seafood leader Thai Union as one of their first partners to implement ASC's AIPs for a total volume of15,700 metric tonnes of shrimp by 2026. Producers can now apply to enter the programme and receive support to improve their farming operations.

Caption: Representatives from ASC and from Thai Union announced the ASC Improver Programme at the Global Shrimp Forum in Utrecht, Netherlands: Blake Stok, Thai Union North America Sustainability Director, Roy van Daatselaar, ASC's Global Lead Improver Programme, Esther Luiten, ASC Commercial Director, Adam Brennan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Thai Union. (Copyright: Pierre Banoori)

ASC's mission is to transform the aquaculture industry towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility.However, not all aquaculture producers are able to meet ASC's robust and strict standards' requirements. For this reason, ASC created the Improver Programme. The programme supports farms who are not ready or eligible for ASC certification but are committed to improving their farming practices. ASC is now launching a credible and transparent model for Aquaculture Improvement Projects (AIPs) designed to facilitate improvements and support producers to drive transformational change at scale.

ASC's credible AIP framework offers two routes

Unlike the fisheries improvements space, the aquaculture industry was lacking a clearly defined AIP framework. For the first time, ASC set a structured approach to monitor AIPprogress. Each AIP starts with a baseline measurement including a gap analysis and a time-bound project plan. Progress needs to be reported on a regular basis and will be verified by independent entities; all this info will be public on the ASC website under the "Find an AIP" search tool.

Producers can choose one of two tracks for their Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP). The first is through the AIP to ASC certification route, where a plan of four phases is defined to improve performance to a level where the producer is ready to begin the ASC certification process by the end of the AIP. The second is the AIP to Better Practices routewhich is set out to facilitate producers who do not wish to become ASC certified but want to improve responsible practices in specific environmental or social areas.

By launching its new AIP model, ASC pushes the bar on transparency and credibility in the farmed seafood industrybeyond certification. This transparency in turn will driveinformed conversations on actions and investments required under an equitable and fair model.

Seafood companies can now play an active role in steeringproducers within their supply chain towards entering an AIP, that allows visibility of progress and performance over time, clarity on actions and investments required to improve performance, and to bring farms to a level that allows them to apply for ASC certification.

ASC will train a network of qualified Implementers and Verifiers, as well as cover the costs of verification of an AIP in order to give back to the industry.

"The launch of this framework for credible AIPs, together with the support and investment that ASC aims to provide to the sector, will be a game changer to the industry" says Roy van Daatselaar, ASC's Global Lead Improver Programme."Processors and seafood importers can now start an AIP within their supply chain and receive direct support from theASC in the form of capacity building. Retailers and seafood buyers can now go to our website and see how AIPs are progressing, following independent verification and transparent reporting on progress."

Successful pilots, Thai Union takes on programme

The first pilots were conducted in Indonesia with PT BMI, Sekar Bumi and JALA, which have all taken part in an AIP to ASC certification. Additionally, ASC is currently running pilots with Lenk Seafood Services and Luna Seafoods, who are working with 125 extensive monodon farmers in Bangladesh and are implementing ASC Group Certification following an AIP.

Thai Union, global seafood leader stock listed in Thailand, has recently launched their sustainability strategy SeaChange® 2030 which aims to help reshape the seafood industry with solutions across people and planet that better sustain a future for all. As part of their commitments, Thai Union will be one of the first setting up an AIP under the Improver Programme by ASC which aims to bring more than 4,000 metric tonnes up to ASC certification and another 11,700 metric tonnes in volume implementing best practices in line with the social and water quality requirements of the ASC Standards.

"We added Responsible Aquaculture as a new commitment within our SeaChange® 2030 strategy, addressing key impactareas including human and labour rights, health and wellness, climate action, and biodiversity," says Adam Brennan, Chief Sustainability Officer of Thai Union.

"In July we committed to 100% of our shrimp and its feedbeing produced minimising ecosystem impact and meeting industry best practices in welfare and working conditions and that 100% of the farms we source from are a safe and decent workplace by 2030. With the framework that ASC has introduced, we are able to work with our suppliers on clear action plans, tracking, and verification in a way that wasn't standardised in the past."

ASC aims to scale up its portfolio in the coming years and offer support to AIPs in Southeast Asia and Latin America, while exploring with partners such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) how improvement efforts can be driven in the wider landscape and at jurisdictional level.

ASC welcomes application of shrimp farmers interested in participating in an AIP anywhere in the world. Interested stakeholders can contact the ASC Improver Programme team at aipservice@asc-aqua.org.

Following the launch of the ASC Farm Standard in 2024, ASC plans to open the AIP scope to other species.

About the Aquaculture Stewardship Council

Impact-focused, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is driving the world's leading certification programme for responsibly farmed seafood.

By setting the most robust standards and providing the highest assurance and integrity throughout the supply chain, we are leading with transparency the transformation of the seafood farming industry towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

All this ensures that seafood with our ASC label has been farmed with care.

More info at www.asc-aqua.org

About Thai Union

Thai Union Group PCL is the world's seafood leader, bringing high quality, healthy, tasty and innovative seafood products to customers across the world for 46 years.

Today, Thai Union is regarded as one of the world's leading seafood producers and is one of the largest producers of shelf-stable tuna products with annual sales exceeding THB 155.6 billion (US$ 4.4 billion) and a global workforce of more than 44,000 people who are dedicated to pioneering sustainable, innovative seafood products.

The company's global brand portfolio includes market-leading international brands such as Chicken of the Sea, John West, Petit Navire, Parmentier, Mareblu, King Oscar, Hawesta, and Rügen Fisch, Thai-leading brands SEALECT, Fisho, Qfresh, Monori, OMG Meat, Bellotta and Marvo, and ingredient and supplement brands UniQ®BONE, UniQ®DHA and ZEAvita.

With a commitment to "Healthy Living, Healthy Oceans," Thai Union is proud to be a member of the United Nations Global Compact, a founding participating company of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), and current Chair of Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS).

Thai Union's ongoing leadership in sustainability has been taken to the next level with the announcement of SeaChange® 2030, the Company's expanded sustainability strategy with more ambitious goals for people and planet. Through SeaChange®, the Company was recognized and listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for the ninth consecutive year in 2022, and ranked number one on the Food Products Industry Index of the DJSI, a position it previously held in 2018 and 2019. The Company was listed in the S&P Global Sustainability Yearbook 2023 after being ranked in the top 1% of more than 7,800 companies assessed, and also named to the FTSE4Good Emerging Index for the seventh straight year in 2022. Find out more about the Group's sustainability strategy at seachangesustainability.org.

Media contacts
Aquaculture Stewardship Council
Desirée Pesci
E-mail: desiree.pesci@asc-aqua.org
Phone: +31 (0)651430760

Thai Union
Wiriyaporn Posayanonda
E-mail: wiriyaporn.posayanonda@thaiunion.com
Phone: +66 2298 0024

United States
Craig Rexroad
E-mail: craig.rexroad@thaiunion.com
Phone: +1 424 397 8610

Markus Reber
E-mail: markus.reber@thaiunion.com
Phone: +44 7779 559551



Thai Union Group pcl published this content on 07 September 2023 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 07 September 2023 08:58:12 UTC.