Aquafeed International is focused on a specific segment of global protein supply, being the farming of aquatic animals, but sometimes it is interesting to take a step back and view the broader perspective within which aquaculture sits. The growth and success of certification programmes is very apparent in all food sectors, and especially in aquaculture. A growing number of standard holders and certification auditors is testimony to the importance that these schemes have in quality and safety assurance.

Aquaculture is particularly well served, with standards encompassing production such as, for example, Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA)"s Best Aquaculture Practice, Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Friend of the Sea, and even standards for farmed fish welfare such as the (UK) RSPCA Assured (Freedom Food) scheme. The raw material supply into fishmeal production is also served by schemes such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The global fishmeal industry is no exception to this trend, where fishmeal occupies a small but very important niche in global protein production, and a critical point in the supply chain. The IFFO Responsible Supply scheme (IFFO RS) was developed in 2009 as a standard that focuses on the fishmeal factory as the unit of certification, thereby including another important element in the supply chain.

The scheme has grown in success since the first (third-party audited) certification was granted in 2010, to the extent that it now encompasses a significant proportion of annual global fishmeal supply. IFFO RS predicts a volume of 51 percent of this year"s production to be certified. It has been a great success story, much needed and well-recognised in the feed and aquaculture industries, and by retailers. In this regard, there was some important news towards the end of April for IFFO RS.

The IFFO RS team has been working very hard on an application for membership to the ISEAL Alliance. ISEAL, or the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance, has a mission "to strengthen sustainability standards systems for the benefit of people and the environment", and IFFO RS has now been accepted as Associate Members of ISEAL. ISEAL is of importance to certification standards because it acts as a global membership association for standards that allows members to demonstrate credibility and accessibility via a process of transparent robust systems and continuous improvement.

Achieving ISEAL membership consists of checks of compliance with ISEAL"s Codes of Good Practice, which ensure that standard-setters have well-functioning systems in place that embrace credibility and effectiveness. ISEAL also adopts a learning pathway which ensures that there is a framework for continual improvement in place.

There is much work to do in moving from Associate Membership to Full Membership of ISEAL by mid-2019, but this news is important for IFFO RS as it effectively brings the standard alongside other well-recognised standards in the ISEAL membership, a true recognition of the quality and importance of the standard. It is a validation of the hard work of Andy Jackson and his team since before the IFFO RS standard was developed and the first certification was granted in 2010 and is another great contribution to this fascinating and important global industry. As Andy mentioned in the recent IFFO RS Press Release, "This is an important and useful way in which we can show measurable environmental improvements through an open, rigorous and accessible certification system".

That, in itself, is clear indication of the continual progress the fishmeal industry is making in securing the quality and supply of the product for now and the future.

Dr Neil Auchterlonie is the Technical Director at IFFO. He has managed aquaculture and fisheries science programmes in both public and private sectors. Academically he holds a BSc in Marine and Freshwater Biology from Stirling University, a MSc in Applied Fish Biology from the University of Plymouth, and a PhD in Aquaculture (halibut physiology) from Stirling University.

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