Scroll Top
Aquaculture Hub circular logo

Best Practices Certification

A. Concept

In the past 40 years, aquaculture has grown to produce more than 50% of the world’s edible seafood and projections are that the industry will continue to expand to meet the increasing global demand. Such rapid global growth, the majority of it in developing countries, has elevated concerns by environmental groups, governments and others about the potential for large-scale negative environmental and social impacts. The solution to these concerns is generally summarized under the concept of fostering sustainable aquaculture practices or best practices.

These issues of sustainable aquatic farming are part of the wider reaching concerns over sustainability of planet earth’s land and ocean ecosystems, and specifically the food production systems, in the face of global climate change and continued population growth. Around the world, governments, the aquaculture industry, and the environmental and NGO communities have responded with various cooperative efforts to develop best practices or standards for the major species and production technologies in use today.

In concept, industry compliance with standards would not only minimize the major environmental impacts of farming, but some groups have also included addressing the negative social impacts that have been particularly evident in developing countries. As with organic certification, once the accepted processes, procedures and standards are developed for responsible aquaculture, then the usual approach is one or more third party organization could play the role of certifiers and the a producer could utilize a special certification or brand in product marketing.

B. Current Status

There are dozens of global, regional and national public and private sector groups currently working on some form of best practices or aquaculture certification today. Some groups are focusing on managing the environmental impacts of aquatic farming , while a few are incorporating addressing social and community impacts, e.g., disrupting the rural community structure. Three efforts are emerging as the leading global approaches (including in the U.S.) to managing and certifying sustainable aquaculture practices:

  1. The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is an international, non-profit trade association, registered in the U.S., that promotes advancement in environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. GAA is developing Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification standards for the major aquaculture products. BAP standards will be determined by evaluators accredited by an independent body, the Aquaculture Accreditation Council (AAC).
  2. The GLOBAL G.A.P. is a private group that sets voluntary standards for certification of production processes of agricultural products around the world, including aquaculture. The adopted standards serve as a global reference system for other existing standards. This is a business-to-business label and not directly visible to consumers.
  3. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a non-profit conservation organization interested in fostering a sustainable supply of seafood through responsible aquaculture farming that minimizes impacts. WWF has initiated eight round table discussions, called the Aquaculture Dialogues, to facilitate communication and foster consensus among the diverse stakeholders involved in global aquaculture to develop specific standards that farmers must meet to be certified. WWF intends to turn the standards over to an independent organization, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), to be the third party auditors to certify farms.

C. More Information

There is a great deal of information on Best Practices Certification on the Internet. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has addressed sustainability, certification and codes of practice for aquaculture. The contact information for the groups mentioned above is as follows:

Global Aquaculture Alliance
Web site:

Web site:

Aquaculture Dialogues
World Wildlife Fund
Web site: 

Blue pattern containing two shades of blue with some razor-like detail

Department of Agriculture – Aquaculture and Livestock Services
99-941 Halawa Valley Street
Aiea, Hawaiʻi 96701-5602
Phone: 808-483-7130
Fax: 808-483-7110
Web site:


Pacific Region Aquaculture and Coastal Resource Hub
2525 Correa Road, HIG 238
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-7031

Center of Excellence Sidebar Pattern

Each pattern represents a Center of Excellence. Learn more about the cultural connections and meanings behind them.