Star Studded Seafood: Best Aquaculture Practices

Best Aquaculture Practices

When it comes to what we feed our families, we’re always on the lookout for the best, most healthful options. This can sometimes feel like a daunting task, and require us to read through extensive ingredient lists to determine if there are any nasty hidden additives. And it can get even more complicated when purchasing different proteins, as it can be difficult to determine where exactly your seafood or meat came from. However, there are organizations in place to help combat these frustrations, including Best Aquatic Practice (BAP).

BAP is a voluntary seafood certification administered by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. To date, it remains one of the most trusted certification programs worldwide—and the only third-party aquaculture certification program compliant with the Global Food Safety Initiative, Global Social Compliance Programme and Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative. As such, when you select fish that bears the BAP label, you can rest assured that you are feeding your family the most responsibly raised seafood.

A Reputable Program with Strong Core Values

BAP is a Reputable Program with Strong Core Values

BAP certification is administered by a nonprofit dedicated to responsible aquaculture. To date, it has certified more than 1,600 facilities worldwide, including fish and crustacean farms, mollusk farms, hatcheries, nurseries, feed mills and processing and packing plants.

To qualify for certification, these facilities must meet a variety of standards, addressing environmental and social responsibility, animal welfare and traceability for farmed seafood. For instance, the farms must be vigilant in keeping their fish separate from wild species, and must have firm policies in place for dealing with escapees.

The wellbeing of workers is scrutinized by BAP, as is the farm’s interaction with the local community. The health of fish is also of paramount importance, and farms are assessed on their management of disease. After all these elements are assessed, farms deemed ethical and responsible can adorn their packaging with the BAP seal of approval.

Of course, BAP isn’t just tough on farms—it’s also tough on itself! Each third-party certifier must be internationally accredited, and every auditor is rigorously trained.

Star-Studded Seafood

Now, all of this hard work to uncover the most responsible fish farms would be useless if BAP didn’t also have an easy way to relay this information to consumers. So, to make it simple for busy shoppers to identify the best fish to feed their families, BAP developed their own star rating system to help consumers make informed decisions.

If you see a seafood product bearing one BAP star, it means the product was produced in a BAP-certified processing plant. If it bears two stars, it means the product was also produced by a BAP-certified farm. A product with three stars takes things a step further, with this item also produced by a BAP-certified hatchery. Finally, if a product has four stars, it means that in addition to all these conditions, the feed mill at the farm that produced this product was also certified by BAP.

Four-Star Tilapia

Regal Springs Tilapia in Honduras

In 2016, Regal Springs earned a four-star rating for its Tilapia produced in Honduras, becoming the first fish farm in the country to do so. This rating was awarded after the local hatchery became BAP-certified, joining the local production center, farm, feed mill and processing plant, all of which had previously held this distinction. In fact, the local processing plant was the very first to earn BAP certification in the country in 2012.

BAP is just one of several certifications helping consumers find seafood that aligns with their values. Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Ocean Wise certifications can also help you source seafood that’s healthful for the environment, for communities and for your family.

Want to choose more sustainable fish for your family, but not sure where to look? Discover our guide to the most responsible seafood choices.

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Photo Credits: Regal Springs, BAP, Regal Springs