The Global Aquaculture Alliance has recently announced that the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) sustainability certification program has been approved by Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, for monitoring seafood supplier social compliance.

Walmart is transitioning to a third-party audit approach for monitoring the social compliance of its suppliers’ facilities, replacing the requirement for its own Responsible Sourcing audits. The retailer’s farmed seafood suppliers will now be required to submit a valid audit report from BAP to meet expectations for worker dignity and safety.

BAP comprehensive standards encompass environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare and traceability. BAP is the only sustainability program to cover the entire aquaculture production chain, including processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills, of which almost 1,800 worldwide have been certified. Earlier this year, the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) was included as a soy-sourcing standard as part of BAP’s feed mill standards.

The SSAP is a certified aggregate approach audited by third parties that demonstrate sustainable soybean production in the United States on a national scale. It was developed by the U.S. soy family, consisting of the United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council and state soybean boards. In the 2016 marketing year, 6 million metric tons of U.S. SSAP-verified sustainable soy were exported from the United States, and in 2017 an increase is expected with shipments destined to 28 different international destinations.

“U.S. soybean farmers’ commitment to sustainability extends beyond the farm to the entire food supply chain,” said Colby Sutter, Director of USSEC’s International Soy in Aquaculture Program. “USSEC has been a supporter of the Global Aquaculture Alliance and its BAP program for many years, and we’re very pleased to see BAP partnering with such a retail giant to ensure the sourcing of sustainably farmed seafood products.”

The SSAP gaining acceptance as a sourcing standard by aquaculture sustainability certification programs, such as BAP, portends well for further increasing soy inclusion rates in aquaculture diets. It is estimated that by 2030, in order to meet global demand, aquaculture production will need to increase by over 44% to more than 100 million metric tons – more than all capture fisheries combined. Aquaculture has been increasing on average 8.5% annually over the last three decades, far outpacing the growth of any other food sector. Sustainability certification schemes play a critical role in encouraging sustainable production methods, and are increasingly being adopted by retailers to assure their customers of sustainably sourced food.

Soy is currently the most popular fishmeal alternative in aquaculture diets worldwide, and the soy industry continues to invest in feed formulation research in order to increase soy utilization for multiple farmed species. Replacing fishmeal with soy products offers economic and environmental benefits for aquaculture, not the least of which is helping to conserve wild fish stocks and greatly increasing the sustainability factor of farmed fish.