4 min

Fish farming companies streamline certification processes

Cermaq Norway has had a taste of the advantage of coordinating certification audits. That is why they are now looking at the possibility of one common Multi Site certificate for ASC on all their fish farms. "It's all about access to the market”, says Evy Røymo, Head of Audits and Certifications at Cemaq.

Cermaq received its first ISO certificate in 2009 when we were certified according to ISO 9001 for quality. In addition to this, the slaughterhouses were certified according to ISO 22000. Evy said:  "Customers then requested the GlobalG.A.P certification scheme. We started working on the implementation of it in 2013 and were certified in 2014 (hatcheries, feed mills and slaughterhouses)," . Evy believes that GlobalG.A.P. has become a standard that is almost unthinkable not to have when producing salmon for export. “There are even customers who want nothing but fish from GlobalG.A.P. certified companies," explains Røymo.

The ASC certification

During the years it became relevant to certify the salmon of the fish farms according to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and that is why Cermaq starting working with it as well. Evy Røymo emphasizes that Cermaq sets strict requirements for sustainability in production, and that they have customers who want them to be responsible fish farmers and take care of the nature in which they operate. In addition, the labeling ASC scheme has a positive commercial impact.

Evy said: “The ASC certificate allows us to charge a higher price in the market for those who are willing to pay for it. ASC is a strict environmental standard that applies in principle to food fish farms. It is possible to certify the hatcheries as well, but so far we have chosen to follow the requirements for smolt that belong to food fish. Slaughterhouses that will slaughter ASC fish must be certified according to ASC-CoC. Today, Cermaq Norway has a single-site certificate for each individual food fish plant."

Coordinated audits

For some years, Cermaq has operated with four, now two ISO standards in addition to GlobalG.A.P. and ASC. "We have had different certification agencies for ISO standards and the GlobalG.A.P scheme. For these standards, the audit process has been coordinated. But for ASC, until 2022, we have had to have one separate audit per site. This was due to the fact of the competence of the different auditors and for which standards they are approved to audit on. Over time, we have experienced that a lot of time is spent on the various audits.”

"We ourselves have had a gut feeling that the audits on GlobalG.A.P. and ASC should be coordinated together and have asked for this in recent years. But it was only when we got in touch with Kiwa that we were made aware that there was actually an existing scheme for this to be done. This scheme makes the whole certification process much more efficient; we now do not have to go through the same points several times.”

Røymo also emphasizes the value of auditors with industry knowledge. She elaborates: "At Kiwa, we meet experienced and competent auditors with good knowledge of the production of farmed salmon and who understand and know the Norwegian regulations. Combined with the coordination of GlobalG.A.P., ASC and ISO audits, we avoid the process around the audits becoming unnecessarily cumbersome.”

Saving time and costs

Audit manager Morten Berntsen from Kiwa points out that time and money can be saved by coordinating the different standards and conducting several types of certification inspections during the same audit. “The requirements are partly different, but there are a lot of common areas in the different standards, even though the individual standards have different additional requirements. Kiwa has auditors who can conduct simultaneous audits of several standards.”

Morten Berntsen adds: "My experience is that many companies are not aware of the benefits of coordinating these processes. One thing is the cost of the certification body, but it's also about reducing the time spent internally in the company.”

Further streamlining with Multi Site ASC

Evy Røymo reveals that Cermaq is preparing to move to ASC Multi Site certification for all of its food fish facilities. "ASC Multi Site certificate is a scheme that seems to be very similar to the Multi-site with QMS scheme at GlobalG.A.P.," she notes.

"It is our impression that most aquaculture companies in Norway today have Single Site certificates. I believe this will prove to be a more rational process, with less time spent on audits without compromising quality. What is new for us is that we have to conduct internal audits according to ASC annually at all sites, but there will be less time spent on external audits. We will test this in 2023. If everything goes as expected, we will switch to ASC Multi Site certificate in the fall of 2023 or in the new year 2024," concludes Røymo.

About Cermaq

Cermaq is one of Norway's largest food producers, producing salmon that is exported to more than 30 countries around the world. Cermaq Norway has operations along the coast of Nordland and Finnmark with approximately 500 employees. The head office is located in Nordfold in Steigen. The company has four freshwater farms, a total of 43 sea farms in Nordland and Finnmark and two slaughterhouses; one in Hammerfest and one in Steigen. Cermaq also has a display center - Arctic Salmon Center - located in Skutvik in Hamarøy. Cermaq Norway is part of the Cermaq Group, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation.