Dutch turbot farmer Seafarm has become the first in the world to achieve certification against the rigorous standards of the ASC Flatfish Standard.
Based in the province of Zeeland, Seafarm has been producing farmed seafood for decades, and takes a ‘whole circle’ approach to farming turbot, from breeding to selling the fish in their on-site restaurant.
ASC’s Flatfish Standard was developed in response to market demand for species like turbot, halibut and flounder, with total global production of the species covered by the standard estimated at around 200,000 tonnes per year. The standard was launched in 2019 following a rigorous development and consultation period. Seafarm achieved certification following a rigorous auditing process carried out by independent certifier SGS.
To achieve certification a flatfish farm has to demonstrate it is limiting environmental impacts such as minimising chemical use and maintaining high water quality, as well as acting in a socially responsible way by providing workers with a safe and fair working environment, and treating neighbours and local communities with respect.
Seafarm take their environmental and social responsibilities seriously. They take advantage of natural spring water and do not use antibiotics or drugs in their production. Their certification is good news for a diverse group of turbot-lovers thanks to their long list of customers. This includes supermarkets and restaurants, including their own situated near their farm for those who like their turbot extra fresh.
‘Strong connection with the sea’
Dave Bout, co-owner of Seafarm said: ‘We come from a fishing family so we have always had a strong connection with the sea, and a strong desire to protect the environment on which we rely for our food.
‘ASC certification gives our customers a demonstrable assurance of this commitment. It means we can show them that our environmental dedication has been transparently audited. Running our own restaurant on-site, we know that this sort of assurance is increasingly important to seafood lovers.’
‘First of many’
Maud van den Haspel, ASC General Manager for The Netherlands, said: ‘This certification is a demonstration of Seafarm’s dedicated approach to responsible farming, and it is a proud moment for all Dutch seafood lovers. It’s also great news for consumers because it means they can enjoy turbot knowing it has been produced with minimal environmental and social impacts.
‘I’m confident that this will be the first of many certifications. Seafarm’s achievement will encourage more producers to follow suit and demonstrate their environmental credentials.’
This is not the end of Seafarm’s environmental ambitions. They are currently working on improvements to their energy-efficiency and waste disposal with the aim of producing fish using only renewable energy.
Flatfish such as turbot have been farmed commercially for a number of decades, and are well suited to aquaculture. However, the farming of these fish can have a number of environmental and social impacts if not done responsibly. These include negative impacts on biodiversity, use of antibiotics, pollution on water quality, and negative impacts for workers or communities. ASC certification requires that farms minimise any negative environmental impacts, treating and paying their workers fairly, and being responsible neighbours.
As well as turbot, the ASC Flatfish Standard covers a number of halibut and flounder species. These fascinating fish are hard to mistake, with two eyes on one side of their face. Their firm, meaty texture makes them a favourite in restaurants and supermarkets around the world. Read more about these species, and how best to cook with them, on ASC’s dedicated flatfish page.
 FAO, 2016; various national statistics
About the ASC
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation co-founded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) in 2010 to manage the certification of responsible fish farming across the globe.
The ASC standards require farm performance to be measured against both environmental and social requirements. Certification is through an independent third party process and reports are uploaded to the public ASC website.
The on-pack ASC logo guarantees to consumers that the fish they purchase has been farmed with minimal impacts on the environment and on society.
For more information about ASC please visit www.asc-aqua.org.