MSC Welcomes New ASC Feed Standard as Incentive to Drive Progress in Sustainable Fishing

The Marine Stewardship Council welcomes the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) new Feed Standard, which requires wild fish used in the production of farmed fish to come from progressively more sustainable sources. 

Fish feed producers wishing to obtain ASC-certification will have to demonstrate the sustainability credentials of all marine ingredients and improve these at each recertification until the majority of marine raw material comes from MSC certified fisheries. Following implementation of the ASC Feed Standard in August 2022, fish farms will be required to switch to ASC compliant feed in order to maintain their ASC-certification. 
 Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC said:  

“Improving the sustainability of fish feed marine ingredients has a vital role to play in tackling overfishing across the globe, due to the large volume of wild-caught seafood required for aquaculture. We therefore welcome the launch of the ASC Feed Standard as an important step forward in improving the sustainability of this fast-growing seafood sector. 

“The launch of this new standard will give MSC certified fisheries a preferred status with feed producers, many of which have ambitious objectives to only source certified sustainable marine raw materials in their feed. This should serve as a powerful incentive to other fisheries across the globe to improve their sustainability credentials, and in turn help protect marine environments.” 

In 2018, 19% of global wild capture fish production was used to produce fishmeal and fish oil [1] with around three-quarters of this used by the aquaculture sector [2]. 

Feed producers will be assessed on entering the ASC programme and set a baseline level of performance, which is not allowed to decline. The minimum entry level is that all raw material for fishmeal and fish oil come from fisheries improvement projects (level 1). At each reassessment, however, their suppliers must have progressed to the next performance level, culminating in all ingredients coming from MSC-certified fisheries (level 4). 

Certification against the ASC feed Standard will give many feed producers the opportunity to independently demonstrate the high-sustainability performance claims made in their Corporate Social Responsibility or Environmental, Social and Governance reports. The majority of marine raw materials used by Salmon feed industry leaders such as Cargill and Biomar already originates from MSC certified fisheries, or fisheries working towards MSC certification [3,4]. This could place them at the highest sustainability performance level in the ASC Feed Standard with regard to the sourcing of marine material. 


[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2020) The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture -2020 
[3] cargill-aqua-nutrition-sustainability-report.pdf