Best Aquaculture Practices and the Four Pillars of Responsible Aquaculture

We talk about the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) pillars of responsible aquaculture quite a bit because they are the foundation of our certification program aquaculture standards—guiding all the work that we do within the seafood industry to keep it moving forward in a responsible and sustainable fashion.

Let’s dive in and explore the four pillars of responsible aquaculture:

1. Environmental – Responsible aquaculture and consideration of the environment go hand in hand.

It’s imperative to address issues such as habitat conservation, water quality and effluents. Aquaculture pollutants must be minimized and should not cause a significant disruption to an ecosystem or a loss of biodiversity. Many algae blooms can be avoided and water oxygen levels surrounding aquaculture sites can remain stable if proper management is implemented.

Working to reduce the amount of fish meal and oil used in farm feeding regimes is another important practice that reduces wild inputs and energy used to cultivate aquaculture products. Also, inspecting cages for damage regularly reduces the chance of aquaculture organisms escaping and establishing themselves as invasive species within native ecosystems.

Finally, the practice of cultivating filter feeder species improves water quality of local ecosystems and provides a fantastic way to counter-balance fed species byproducts.

2. Food Safety – Best practices ensure a first line of defense for the public regarding the safety of the food they consume.

No banned antibiotics or other chemicals should be used in the production of aquaculture seafood. All chemical treatments carried out by producers need to be done responsibly.

When antibiotics are overused in crowded fish pens, this can lead to consumers ingesting harmful levels of antibiotic residue left in contaminated flesh of the farmed species. Of further concern is the issue that overuse of antibiotics in aquaculture leads to harmful strains of bacteria developing a resistance to specific treatments. These bacteria compromise the effectiveness of those specific forms of antibiotics in treating human ailments.

3. Social Welfare – Adhering to worker safety, child labor and community rights laws helps the aquaculture industry have a positive impact on society and the communities it resides within.

Do to aquaculture’s rapid growth and demand, it’s clear that this practice will continue to provide a vast amount of opportunity for workers all over the world. Seafood professionals deserve to work in a safe and fair environment. We must work within different global communities to communicate best practices that are in compliance with local culture and community rules.

4. Animal Health & Welfare – Following best practices in animal husbandry serves to do more than simply control disease—it creates a better product for producer and consumer.

Zone management or spatial planning is a desirable way to reduce disease caused by issues such as tank overcrowding. By giving the farmed organisms more space, disease spreads less rapidly and they are less susceptible to ailments to begin with. Feeding, stocking and transport are all practices that can cause stress or harm to organisms, and conducting them in an appropriate manner is crucial to the health of the organism. Water parameters and other environmental conditions aide an organism’s wellbeing and must be monitored closely. In the end, the healthier an organism is, the better product it becomes, which benefits the producer as well as the consumer.

The four pillars of responsible aquaculture incorporate all corners of seafood production—the product’s producers and the communities touched by the industry, the organisms themselves and the environments in which they are farmed, and the consumers who enjoy the final product.

Learn more about BAP and our third-party aquaculture certification program.