BAP Certification : Quality guarantee for aquaculture

Aquaculture is a process of raising aquatic species such as fish, crustaceans and molluscs under controlled conditions. It plays a key role in protein intake globally. Faced with the environmental and social concerns of this industry, BAP certification (Best Aquaculture Practices) is a solution, establishing strict criteria for respectful aquaculture. By choosing products from BAP-certified farms, you ensure a healthy and sustainable diet, while supporting ethical practices within the sector.

What is the BAP certification ?

Best Aquaculture Practices is an international initiative to promote sustainable aquaculture methods. This food certification establishes quality criteria for the breeding of aquatic species, focusing on environmental protection, food safety and animal welfare.

Encompassing all stages of the production process, from rearing to final processing, BAP certification applies to various species such as fish, shrimp and molluscs. The unique star system on the BAP label indicates the level of commitment to these standards.

Based on four fundamental pillars (environment, food safety, social responsibility and animal welfare) with a strong focus on traceability, BAP certification ensures that aquatic products comply with rigorous requirements in these key areas, verified by third party audits.

Choosing products from BAP-certified aquaculture means choosing healthy, sustainably produced food. It also helps support local communities dependent on aquaculture while helping to preserve natural resources and biodiversity.

Which organizations offer BAP certification ?

The internationally recognized BAP certification is supported by a variety of bodies responsible for setting standards, conducting audits, issuing certificates and promoting certification.

Discover below the main players offering BAP certification :

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA)

A leading non-governmental organization, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is dedicated to promoting responsible and sustainable aquaculture. A pioneer, she established the BAP program in 2002, ensuring its management and evolution over time.

GAA works closely with scientists, industry professionals and stakeholders to develop BAP standards.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

The Council for the Stewardship of Aquaculture (ASC) embodies an independent structure dedicated to the transformation of aquaculture towards an eco-responsible and socially justifiable practice. Having established its own standards for certain species, such as salmon, trout and tilapia, the CSA works with the GAA to unify the BAP and ASC standards, thus facilitating common certification for producers.

Certification and audit bodies

Crucial to the certification process, certification and audit bodies assess the adequacy of producers with BAP and ASC standards. These independent and recognized entities, such as Bureau Veritas, SGS or Control Union, conduct thorough audits, verify documents and issue certificates to compliant producers.

The partners of the BAP certification

BAP certification partners play a critical role in promoting certification recognition and adoption. They include distributors, retailers, restaurateurs, professional associations and NGOs, all committed to promoting BAP certified products and raising awareness of sustainable aquaculture. Among them are recognized names like Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, Sysco or Seafood Watch.

What are the specific BAP certification requirements for my industry ?

BAP certification is suitable for various aquaculture sectors, such as hatcheries, farms, feed manufacturing plants and processing plants. For each sector, it sets precise requirements dictated by BAP standards, based on four pillars of responsibility and a traceability foundation. Below are details of the requirements by sector :

Hatcheries

Hatcheries, which see aquatic animal development from the egg, must :

  • Comply with regulations at all levels.  
  • Preserve biodiversity, preventing the introduction of pests or diseases.  
  • Limit their environmental impact by managing effluents, waste and emissions.  
  • Ensure food safety with traceable ingredients and without prohibited substances.  
  • Ensure animal welfare and avoid stress and injury.  
  • Ensure worker rights with respectful conditions.  
  • Maintain a documented management system to facilitate audits.

Farms

From the point of growth of animals to harvest, farms must :

  • Follow laws and standards at all levels.
  • Protect biodiversity and the surrounding environment.  
  • Minimize environmental impact through ecological management.  
  • Use BAP certified food, ensuring food safety and quality.  
  • Ensure animal welfare, preventing stress and pain.  
  • Maintain fair and safe working conditions for all.  
  • Manage a documentation system for accurate tracking and simplified audits.

Food factories

Aquatic feed producers are concerned with :

  • Respect for the law and protection of biodiversity, choosing sustainable ingredients.  
  • Reducing the environmental footprint through rigorous resource management.  
  • Food quality and safety with proper manufacturing practices.  
  • Respect for workers' rights, promoting a healthy working environment.  
  • Maintenance of a documented management system for traceability and audit.

Processing plants

Aquatic processing, packaging and labelling centres must :

  • Comply with regulations and protect the environment.  
  • Minimize their ecological impact and use sustainable products.  
  • Guarantee the quality and safety of products, following strict hygiene practices.  
  • Ensure workers’ rights, ensuring a safe and fair workplace.  
  • Maintain rigorous documentation for effective audits.

These specific requirements are complemented by general principles such as ethical commitment, continuous improvement, collaboration with stakeholders and transparent communication.

Guide to obtaining BAP certification ?

BAP certification is a rigorous process focused on meeting BAP standards and successful independent audits. Here are the key steps to acquire it :

Preparation of the application

Get started by completing the online form available on the GAA website. You will specify the sector of activity, the type and number of species cultivated, as well as information about the location and capacity of the operation. The contact details of the person in charge must also be included. It is then necessary to choose a certification and audit body accredited by the GAA.

Compliance with BAP standards

For this second step, you must comply with the BAP standards specific to your sector. This means meeting both the specific and general requirements of the four pillars of accountability, placing traceability at the heart of the process. A documented management system is also required to record critical data and facilitate the conduct of audits. The BAP standards can be viewed on the GAA website or with the help of a licensed consultant.

Carrying out audits

The third step is to submit to the audits conducted by the selected certification and audit body. These, carried out on site by competent and independent auditors, aim to confirm compliance with BAP standards by examining documents, evidence, and by observing practices and facilities. These audits, which may be announced or unannounced, require periodic updating.

Certificate acquisition

The last step leads to obtaining the BAP certificate, following the success of the audits. Issued by the certification and audit body, this certificate, valid for a specific period, details the name and address of the producer, its sector of activity, as well as the type and number of species cultivated. It also mentions the number of BAP stars awarded.

This certificate authorizes the use of the BAP label on products and packaging, thus promoting their marketing to distributors and consumers seeking responsible aquaculture products.

How much does a BAP certification cost ?

Obtaining a BAP certification represents an investment whose amount depends on several factors: the field of activity, the size of the company, the desired BAP certification level and the certification body chosen. The main costs to consider are :

Compliance costs

To meet BAP standards, be prepared to invest in purchasing equipment, training employees, renovating infrastructure, reducing environmental impact, and improving product quality and safety. These expenses can be reduced by taking advantage of GAA continuous improvement programs or through the support of certified consultants.

Certification costs

This is the fee that the certification body charges for conducting audits and issuing certificates. These costs vary according to the chosen organization, the number and duration of audits, and the desired level of certification. For detailed information on these costs, visit the GAA website or your certification body.

Promotion costs

Expenses related to the promotion of your BAP certified products include the acquisition of the BAP label, the creation of promotional materials and participation in events. However, these costs can be offset by better accessibility to more lucrative markets, customer loyalty, and a marked distinction against competitors.

The BAP certification is an investment that, while representing an initial cost, can generate significant benefits by valuing aquaculture products, strengthening consumer confidence, reducing the risk of noncompliance and improving the overall performance of your business.

How long does it take to obtain BAP certification ?

Obtaining a BAP certification is an approach that varies in duration depending on several factors, such as the field of activity, the size of the company, the number of BAP stars targeted, as well as the choice of certification and audit body. The steps include :

Preparation time

The preparation phase is crucial and consists of complying with BAP standards. This period varies according to the initial state of compliance of the company, the necessary improvements, and the resources available. It can range from a few weeks to more than a year. To optimize this process, it is recommended to consult the BAP standards on the GAA website or to hire a specialized consultant.

The certification deadline

This step involves passing audits and obtaining the certificate. The duration depends on the availability of the certification and audit bodies, the complexity of the operations to be certified, as well as the quantity and length of the necessary audits. The waiting period can range from a few days to several weeks, or even exceed the month. To facilitate this step, it is wise to contact the certification and audit body quickly by filling out the form available on the GAA website.

Despite the time required, the BAP certification process is advantageous, offering a valuation of aquaculture products, a strengthening of customer confidence, a reduction of the risks of non-compliance, as well as an improvement in economic performance, social, and environmental.

How to renew your BAP certification ?

BAP certification requires periodic renewal to remain valid. This renewal requires compliance with BAP standards and the successful completion of new independent audits. Here’s what you need to know about renewing your BAP certification :

Period of validity of the certification

The validity of the BAP certification varies according to your industry and the number of BAP stars obtained, being generally set at one year. However, this duration may vary. The expiry date is clearly indicated on the certificate as well as on the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) website.

Frequency of audits

Renewal audits are conducted on-site by qualified and independent auditors who review documents, evidence and inspect practices and facilities to ensure compliance with BAP standards. The frequency of audits depends on several factors, but is usually done once a year, although it may vary.

Renewal conditions

To renew your BAP certification, follow these steps :

  • Fill out a new online application form on the GAA website, providing the required information, just like when you first applied.  
  • Make sure you follow the latest BAP standards, which may have evolved since your first certification.  
  • Achieve a positive audit result by meeting the requirements of the four pillars of accountability, with traceability as the basis.  
  • Cover certification fees, which vary according to several criteria, such as the certification body, the number and duration of audits, as well as the number of BAP stars obtained.

The renewal of the BAP certification is an ongoing commitment that is worth it, because it guarantees the maintenance of the quality and responsibility of aquaculture products, strengthens customer confidence, ensures compliance with regulations, and improves economic, social and environmental performance.

La procédure classique

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

1

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

2

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

3

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