Aquaculture certification programs are becoming more and more popular and here we offer a guide from shrimp farmers to those most relevant to Indonesia and beyond.
As more people realize the importance of sustainability, consumers in major shrimp importing areas – such as Europe, North America and Japan – want to know more about the products. aquaculture they buy. Eco-certification and eco-labeling have become means of providing this information to customers.
Essentially, these are designed to provide traceability and verify that an aquaculture product meets a certain performance-based standard. In most cases, products that acquire certification are stamped with a label that assures buyers and consumers that the products they purchase meet the standards underlying the label.
There are a number of different certification systems, with different approaches, focusing on factors such as sustainability, food safety or labor. The overall objective of aquaculture certification is to encourage shrimp producers, as well as the various actors in the value chain, with price premiums, access to international markets and added value of the label that differentiates the product.
With such incentives, it is hoped that farmers who practice less sustainable farming methods will switch to more sustainable ones. In addition, as farmers turn to sustainable practices, various other benefits will follow – in theory – such as reduced environmental impacts and carbon footprint, as well as improved working conditions. As the shrimp industry becomes more and more important to global food security, eco-certification is an important initiative to help the industry become more sustainable.
There is a plethora of certification programs for seafood. Usually, here are the steps to become certified:
- Presentation of the application
- Audit process
- Verification process
- Issuance of the certificate
Each program has its own process and schedule, with varying fee terms. Most international private systems use third party assessment in which independent certification bodies are responsible for the audit process. All certification programs also have their own chain of custody process, which transparently shows how products move from farm to retail. This allows farmers to understand the status of their products throughout the supply chain. For consumers, this allows them to know exactly where the products they are buying are coming from and thus assures them that the products meet exacting standards.
It is important to note that certification does not end with farmers, as they are only one part of the overall supply chain. This is why feed mills, hatcheries and processing plants, ideally, must also adhere to certain standards and be certified. This is to ensure that the product is supplied sustainably from upstream to downstream. However, the standards for each of them are usually different from the standards for farms.
There are various certification programs that have been introduced in Indonesia by international private programs, such as Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Practices in Aquaculture (GAA-BAP), Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), GLOBAL GAP, Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative (ASIC) and Monterey. Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch (MBASW).
Each of these programs has similar standards but with different emphasis. Here is a brief overview:
- The GAA-BAP covers a relatively comprehensive range of issues – including food safety, social responsibility, environmental responsibility and traceability – and encompasses the entire production chain, including the flour mill, hatchery, farm and the processing plant. To ensure traceability, all certified sites are required to have detailed records in their supply chains.
- Meanwhile, for shrimp, the ASC is focusing more on the producer side with a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability, biosecurity, and community and worker protection. In terms of traceability, ASC uses the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody (CoC) standard to track ASC certified products throughout the supply chain.
- GLOBAL GAP also covers the entire production chain and applies its standard in food safety, workers’ rights, animal welfare and environmental protection. It has its own CoC standard which contains strict requirements for the handling and segregation of certified and uncertified products throughout the supply chain to ensure traceability.
- There are organizations around the world that monitor aquaculture products and their impact on the environment, to provide information to consumers and businesses, but do not act as certification bodies. One of the most well-known organizations in this field is The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (MBASW). MBASW provides recommendations and criteria for evaluating seafood, but does not offer a certification program. Their ratings, which range from “Best Choice” (Green), “Good Alternative” (Yellow) and “Avoid” (Red) are based on government reports, journal articles, white papers and expert opinions. However, they compared other eco-certification standards to theirs to provide MBASW ratings of these certified products.
- There are also organizations that work to develop and improve the shrimp industry while helping small-scale shrimp producers, who are generally unable to gain recognition from certification bodies due to cost and expense. complexity of certification processes. One of the most notable in Asia is the Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative (ASIC) with its ASIC Shrimp Initiative. They have developed an improvement program to help small-scale shrimp producers in Southeast Asia improve their farming practices and be recognized for their efforts, but without the barriers of certification programs. They are currently working with NSF International to provide reassurance to global buyers and consumers.
Indonesian certification aims to drive sustainable growth
Due to the fragmented nature of shrimp production in Indonesia, the government has created its own program to ensure harmony between existing national and international standards. The harmonized regulations encompass the entire Indonesian shrimp value chain. The list is as follows:
- Cara Pembuatan Pakan Ikan yang Baik (CPPIB) / Good food management practices for aquaculture
- Cara Pembenihan Ikan yang Baik (CPIB) / Good hatchery practices
- Cara Pembuatan Obat Ikan yang Baik (CPOIB) / Good management practices for fish-based medicines
- Cara Budidaya Ikan yang Baik (CBIB) / Good aquaculture practices
- Cara Penanganan Ikan yang Baik (CPIB) / Good management practices for handling aquaculture products
- Surat Kelayakan Pengolahan (SKP) / Treatment Eligibility Certificate
Currently, the Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is developing a new standard that will combine all of the above certifications. This new program is called Indonesian Good Aquaculture Practices (IndoGAP) and follows the technical guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for good shrimp aquaculture practices (ASEAN Shrimp GAqP).
During its implementation, the government will establish third-party certification bodies which will need to be approved by the Indonesian National Accreditation Committee / Komite Akreditasi Nasional (KAN). Simplifying the procedure is an effective way to increase the number of accredited farms, in line with the expected significant growth in Indonesian aquaculture production. At present, IndoGAP is being rolled out by the government.
How Alune can help you
Alune is committed to supporting the sustainable development and growth of aquaculture in Indonesia. To play our part in this regard, we have created a self-assessment platform that farmers use to understand how to upgrade or adjust their farms and farming practices to quickly adapt to IndoGAP certification standards. Based on the farmers’ self-assessment score, Alune provides a guide on the key steps to be taken to be ready for certification.
The platform is free, open to the public and accessible here. We hope the service continues to be useful and contributes to the growth of Indonesian aquaculture.