By Casey Rutherford
As the field of aquaculture advances so has the importance of its sustainability. Several certification systems now exist that assess the responsibility of aquatic farming operations, however, consumers are often unsure of the meaning behind each.
Best Aquaculture Practices, known as BAP, is administered by the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and it is the first aquaculture certification program to be recognized by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative and the Global Food Safety Initiative. The BAP and GAA have devoted the past 20 years to “feeding the world through responsible and sustainable aquaculture.” This third party certification program encompasses the entire aquaculture production chain including farms, hatcheries, feed mills, and processing plants. To achieve the Best Aquaculture Practices certification, a facility must comply with the rigorous standards and requirements.
BAP certification includes regular audits to ensure all facilities are complying with local and national laws, following biosecurity protocols, striving for good community relations by not blocking access to public lands or natural resources, avoiding the use of mangrove and wetland areas, consistently monitoring water quality, minimizing possible negative impacts on sediment quality in the area, monitoring feed inputs to minimize the use of fishmeal and fish oil, taking practical steps to prevent fish escapes, recording traceability, and catering to overall animal welfare. The GAA published a few separate manuals outlining the specific BAP requirements for different steps in the supply chain: mollusk farms, salmon farms, finfish, crustacean, and mollusk hatcheries, feed mills, and seafood processing and repacking plants.
BAP closed out 2017 with 1,850 certified facilities; 1,169 of these facilities are farms, 388 are processing plants, 191 are hatcheries, and 102 are feed mills. These BAP certified facilities span 31 different countries and 6 continents. The Best Aquaculture Practice program has more than doubled in size in the past two years, demonstrating the aquaculture industry’s commitment to sustainable aquaculture. To keep up with the booming industry, BAP standards are updated frequently and their certified facilities undergo audits to evaluate compliance in order to maintain their BAP certification status.
The BAP program provides buyers, dealers, and consumers a thorough view of an aquaculture operation’s sustainability – look for the logo on seafood items at the grocery store.