On March 20, 2015, my local paper the Times Colonist in Victoria, BC, published a short item presumably picked up among snippets of news feed from other sources, this one noting that Marsh Bay, a Marine Harvest fish farm in BC, 'is the first salmon farm in North America to earn certification from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (known as ASC)'. The Marsh Bay 'farm was recognized by the council after an independent audit. Certified farms must demonstrate that they use responsible aquaculture practices that minimize envirionmental and social impact.'
This sounds good, but I am afraid it isn't. Most fish farm awards, for example, the BAPs which are industry funded, don't mean anything. The ASC was set up by the World Wild Life Foundation and without any checking a reader would likely think that the award must be a good thing, because of the WWF connection.
But it doesn't mean anything. That is because the WWF included in-ocean fish farms as part of the program. No in-ocean fish farm is environmentally sustainable nor good for the environment in any way. Go read current news from Norway, where fish farms are from and you'll see that citizens are calling for getting the farms out of the water. Go read: Seafoodnews, Undercurrents, intrafish and thefishsite.com.
When the WWF was in the process of setting up the ASC awards it asked me, among others, for comments on the criteria, process and so on. When I looked over the material I felt it would take me more than a week's work to do justice to the task. I don't make any money out of this and am a citizen that wishes DFO would stick to protecting wild Pacific salmon and eliminate its conflict of interest, noted by the Cohen Commission, with fish farms.
The most important problem with the ASC scheme is that it allows in-ocean fish farms to be certified. That is giving up the entire game as fish farms will not be responsible and set up on land. I told the WWF this and that its certification wouldn't mean anything. They responded that, yes, they wanted fish farms out of the water, too, and hoped that in the long run this would happen.
So, until the ASC is for on-land fish farms, its certification means nothing. You may read my list of 75 on-land fish farm systems from around the world, comprising more than 10,000 actual farms on land around the world here: http://fishfarmnews.blogspot.ca/2012/01/key-document-34-mostly-on-land-closed.html. The list does not include the big players, Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grief Seafood because they refuse to come out of the water. The biggest problem is their sewage that I estimate that in BC is worth $10.4 billion that we taxpayers in essence pay for. We don't want to pay, along with BC fish farms put more sewage in the water than the entire human population in the jurisdiction, including Scotland and Norway.
More than 100,000 British Columbians have signed a petition to get fish farms out of the water and for expansion to stop. People in Atlantic Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Norway feel the same. Here is the BC link: See: https://www.change.org/p/restore-wild-salmon-ban-salmon-feedlots-in-bc..