Assessing the Best Aquaculture Practices Certification


KIT Royal Tropical Institute conducted an assessment of the ‘Best Aquaculture Practices’ (BAP) certification of the Global Aquaculture Alliance. The assessment aimed to better understand how BAP social and labour standards are applied in practice and to determine how they impact practices among seafood producers, processors and buyers.

Ensuring aquaculture production is environmentally and socially sustainable

Aquaculture supplies more than half of the fish consumed globally, but the long-term sustainability of this sector hinges on its ability to resolve the range of environmental and social issues that hinder it. Such issues include degradation of habitats and ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, and violation of labour and human rights.

Voluntary sustainability certification schemes aim to address these concerns by engaging with seafood processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills to introduce new rules for food safety, environmental management, animal welfare, and labour and social conditions.

One of these is the ‘Best Aquaculture Practices’ (BAP) certification of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), the largest third-party certifier for the aquaculture sector.

KIT's BAP Assessment

KIT was contracted by GAA to assess compliance with BAP’s labour and social standards. In particular, KIT’s work supported GAA ambitions to ensure that aquaculture operations protect fundamental rights, including freedom from forced labour and human trafficking, elimination of child labour, freedom of association and non-discrimination and equal opportunities. It also examined occupational safety and health, community relations, minimum wage, and basic standards for housing, hygiene and meals.

Insights and lessons learned from this research will be used to further develop BAP and GAA’s programmes and to promote socially sustainable seafood more broadly.

The role of certification schemes in the aquaculture sector

Voluntary standards are becoming increasingly common in the aquaculture sector. These standards aim to provide incentives for value chain actors to improve environmental and socioeconomic performance, while ensuring consumers that the product has been produced in an ethical and environmentally friendly way.

Although research is increasingly being conducted on the impact of sustainability standards in general, the aquaculture sector has so far received less attention.

The Global Aquaculture Alliance promotes responsible aquaculture with BAP

The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, non-profit organisation that represents individuals, associations and businesses associated with aquaculture and seafood around the world. GAA’s mission is “to promote responsible aquaculture practices through education, advocacy and demonstration”.

GAA initially developed certification standards in response to threats posed to the shrimp sector. GAA developed BAP beginning in 2002, a certification that covers the entire supply chain, including farms, processing plants, hatcheries and feed mills, of farmed finfish, crustacean and mollusc species around the globe.

The volume of product originating from BAP-certified facilities has been steadily increasing, going from 1.45 million metric tons at the end of 2015 to 2.17 million metric tons at the end of 2016, and with 1,850 facilities certified at the end of 2017.

There are six sets of BAP standards covering
1) Finfish & Crustacean Farms;
2) Mollusk Farms;
3) Salmon Farms;
4) Finfish, Crustacean & Mollusk Hatcheries & Nurseries;
5) Feed Mills; and
6) Seafood Processing & Repacking Plants.