First cobia farm becomes ASC certified

First cobia farm becomes ASC certified One of Open Blue's submersible cobia farming pods deployed off the coast of Panama

The Open Blue farm in Panama has become the first cobia producer in the world certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard. To attain certification, the farm was assessed by an independent auditor against a set of robust requirements stipulated by the ASC Seriola and Cobia Standard.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to Open Blue on their achievement in becoming the first cobia farm in the world certified against our standard. Welcoming the first cobia producer to our programme marks an important milestone for the ASC,” said ASC’s CEO Chris Ninnes.

“Open Blue’s certification shows leadership in responsible aquaculture and sets an example for cobia producers around the world. Farms certified to ASC standard contribute to the health of the environment, protect local communities and care for workers. I look forward to welcoming more cobia farms to our programme in the future.”

Situated in the open waters of the Caribbean off the coast of Panama, the Open Blue farm is fully submerged at depths of up to 30 metres. With a head office in Panama City and other offices in Miami, Los Angeles, Nova Scotia and throughout Europe, Open Blue is an international company that not only see the value in caring for the environment but also for its workers and the communities within which it operates.

“Achieving these key certifications marks a major milestone for us and for our customers for 2018,” said Open Blue CEO Chris Perry.

“Our innovative approach is to raise and harvest fish miles offshore in their natural ocean habitat in a responsible and sustainable way that honours and protects our sensitive ocean ecosystems and respects the workers and the communities around us.”

The Seriola and Cobia Standard is the result of more than eight years of development by farmers, scientists, conservationists, industry representatives and others stakeholders. The standard addresses the key environmental and social impact associated with cobia aquaculture, and consists of a set of measurable, performance-based requirements that farms must meet in order to become certified.

Certified cobia farmers minimise their environmental and social impacts in a number of ways. Certified farms are required to measure water parameters such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and oxygen levels and remain within set limits, fish escapes must be minimised, and the use of medicines before a disease is diagnosed is prohibited. There are strict limits for the use of wild fish as ingredient for feed, and farms must ensure full traceability back to a responsibly managed source.

From a social perspective, the cobia standard sets strict requirements based on the core principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) including prohibiting the use of child labour or any form of forced labour. All certified farms are safe and equitable working environments where employees earn a decent wage and have regulated working hours.

The Open Blue farm gained its certification following a successful audit last September by certifier SCS Global Services, which is accredited to carry out assessment against the ASC farm standards.

“As our independent assessment confirms, Open Blue is deeply committed to responsible aquaculture practices and minimising impacts on marine ecosystems,” said Juan Aguirre, SCS Project Manager of Sustainable Seafood. “Congratulations to Open Blue on being the first to demonstrate conformance with ASC’s stringent cobia standard.”

The ASC assessment process is independent, transparent and allow for a high level of stakeholder engagement. It follows a third party verification system, recognised as the highest level of assessment, which means farms seeking to become certified are audited by objective, independent conformity assessment bodies (CABs).

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