By Paula Galloway, Certification Manager
Just like other specialized areas, certification programs abound with acronyms. In this case, GAABAP stands for Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices. Starting this spring, Marine Harvest Canada will be applying the BAP standard for farm-raised salmon to our marine sites.
The BAP program has a number of strengths that make it a good environmental certification choice:
- The standard is species specific. Thus, we will be applying an environmental standard that is designed for farm-raised salmon and; therefore, addresses concerns specific to our operations.
- The BAP logo is ‘consumer facing’ meaning that can be used at the retail level.
- The BAP program is based on a 4-star system that allows aquaculture operations to build layers of certification covering marine site, hatchery site (the farmed salmon standard will be released spring 2012), seafood processing and feed mill. The BAP certification logo indicates which of these standards have been achieved. The seafood processing standard is GFSI (yes, another acronym) recognized. GFSI is the Global Food Safety Initiative, which is an organization that has benchmarked the multitude of food safety standards available worldwide to ensure inclusion of specific requirements for product safety.
- In those farming areas where Area Management Agreements are not in place, the BAP program requires that all BAP certified farms within twice the regulatory minimum separation distance or 5km from each other work together as an area management unit and demonstrate cooperation on matters of stocking, fallowing, fish health and biosecurity. This builds on cooperative efforts already in place amongst BC salmon farming companies but becomes an opportunity to provide additional structure and to raise the bar on BC industry practice.
- The BAP standard was designed with significant stakeholder involvement. During the standard’s development, its technical committee included four representatives each from: industry associations, conservation non-governmental organizations and academic/regulatory/policy groups.
- The farm certification requires confidential provision of operational data to the BAP program to inform future development and ‘continual improvement’ of the standard.
- Continual improvement is incorporated into numerous compliance points within the standard. The aspect of continual improvement is a cornerstone of any sustainable development as sustainability is an ever-changing endpoint informed by research, technological advances as well as shifting societal values and economic realities.
Achievement of BAP certification at all our sites will be an important opportunity for Marine Harvest Canada to tell our sustainability story and to demonstrate our good practices and continual growth in areas that impact the environment. Stay tuned for more BAP news!