A stairway to MSC – Understand the new ASC feed standard


Producers of fish feed who wish to be certified by the Aquaculture feed standard (ASC) must prove that their marine ingredients – fishmeal and fish oil – are sourced from sustainably managed stocks.

As of September 1st 2022, when the new feed standard is implemented, feed producers are required to segment every tonnage of marine ingredients in levels based on the degree of sustainability. The levels system is built as a stairway beginning at level 0 (due diligence) end ending at level 4 (MSC certification). The amount of marine ingredients in each level are then used to determine the “overall sustainability score” of the feed mill by reviewing the relative quantities of marine ingredients of each level.

If, for example, a feed mill has purchased 500 mt of marine ingredients at level 4, 200 mt at level 2 and 400 mt at level 1, then the feed mills overall sustainability score will be 2, because the total quantity of marine ingredients at level 1 + level is more than half the total amount. Had the feed mill instead bought an additional 100 mt of marine ingredients at level 4, the overall sustainability score would climb two levels to level 4.

In this new version of the feed standard, there are also specific requirements for plant-based ingredients, which is an important step in achieving sustainability in all ingredient sectors. Production of plant based ingredients such as soy and palm oil have a high impact on natural resources and should be just as strictly monitored and certified as has been the case for marine ingredients for a number of years now.

For the fisheries, the relative amount of MSC-certified marine ingredients plays a big part in granting of the ASC label to the end products, and the new feed standard will likely serve the function of applying pressure throughout the supply chain.

Supply chain

Following the recent release of the feed standard, there will now be a public consultation of the standard and the ASC have encouraged all feed mills and their suppliers to review the standard.

You can find the new feed standard here.