IFOAM Aquaculture

Consultation on recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS)

IFOAM OI held a global consultation on organic aquaculture systems.  Supported by the IFOAM Aquaculture Working Group the consultation sought views on whether and/or how recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) can be adapted to integrate organic practices.  Can RAS ever be organic?  Are they a step too far towards factory farming or do they hold the potential to supply much needed sustainably produced fish?  Do organic systems have something to contribute to the global development of recirculation aquaculture systems?

The consultation was part of the journey towards developing a unified global position on recirculation aquaculture systems which will be debated at the IFOAM General Assembly in November 2017.  It is part of the revision of the aquaculture section of the IFOAM Standard.

What we heard?
The survey closed on 7th March 2017 after running for two months.  We had a total of 292 responses from stakeholders around the world.  This impressive response demonstrates the importance of aquaculture systems to the ongoing debates around global food security.  The Aquaculture Working Group met to consider responses and has drafted a motion for the General Assembly in November.  This is in the process of being discussed in order to be ready to be voted upon by the membership.

You will find here a list of the questions in the survey.
Here are the files with  Package icon all the responses that we received

What next?
We will keep this page updated with developments.  The IFOAM OI membership will have the opportunity to vote on the motion concerning recirculation aquaculture systems at the General Assembly in November in New Delhi.

For more information please contact us at e-mail: info [at] aquaculture.ifoam.bio

Why organic aquaculture?

Organic aquaculture is a developing sector involving farmers worldwide producing a wide range of aquatic species – including fish, seaweeds and bivalves – in line with organic principles. Globally, demand for farmed fish is increasing and as the industry expands the organic sector can show that there is a better way to farm, for animal welfare, water quality and human health. The ultimate purpose of organic standards is to make change in the world – to produce our food and other products in ways that are kinder to our planet and better for us. 

We aim to:

  • develop valuable and sustainable aquatic systems
  • maintain and enhance water quality and water resources
  • promote good animal welfare and respect the needs of all aquatic life
  • foster biodiversity and protect sensitive habitats
  • maximise use of renewable resources and recycling
  • minimize pollution and waste

What is the IFOAM Aquaculture Forum?

The IFOAM Aquaculture Forum is a group of organic aquaculture producers, certification bodies, researchers and other stakeholders with many years of collective experience in organic aquaculture production and certification.

The IFOAM Aquaculture Forum aims to:

  • to pursue the objectives of IFOAM – Organics International within the area of aquaculture
  • to support activities that develop the organic aquaculture sector and to facilitate information between members
  • to represent its members within IFOAM – Organics International and to external stakeholders
  • to discuss standards and certification and to develop positions on issues where necessary
  • to provide advice on aquaculture to committees and the World Board of IFOAM – Organics International
  • to further develop the concept of organic aquaculture.

There is an EU group too – the IFOAM EU Aquaculture Expert Group, which meets at least once a year to discuss EU focused issues.

OrAqua is a 3-project funded by the Commission to provide recommendations on organic aquaculture for the future EU Organic Regulation. The IFOAM Aquaculture Forum (IAF), which includes also EU experts, gathered in Bonn on 20 October 2016 to discuss the input to be provided to the project. The Forum's recommendations to OrAqua can be found here.

Governance  documents

The Rules of Procedure of the IFOAM Aquaculture Forum and related documents you find for download here:

SPECIAL EXPERT WORKING GROUP - powered by             

In mid-2016 IFOAM - Organics International constituted a special expert Working Group on organic aquaculture, to help resolve critical issues and help move the sector forward in a united way. The Working Group is mandated to make recommendations for a motion to be considered by the IFOAM - Organics International General Assembly in India, in November 2017. The Working Group will then use the results of that gathering to revise the IFOAM Standard on aquaculture. Its work is planned to go through mid 2018.

Working Group members are:

  • Antoine Faure - Ecocert - France
  • Åsa Espmark - Nofima - Norway
  • David Gould - IFOAM – Organics International (Chair) - USA
  • Francisca George - Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti - Nigeria
  • James Hepburn - Aquavision - UK
  • John Volpe - University of Victoria, British Columbia - Canada
  • Ramkrishnan Balasubramanian - FOG/QCS - USA
  • Giuseppe Lembo - COISPA - Italy
  • Sarah Hathway - Soil Association (IFOAM Standards Committee member) - UK
  • Xi Yunguan - Nanjing Global Organic Food Research and Consulting Center - China

The Terms of Reference of the Working Group are available by clicking here. The Working Group meets periodically to discuss and carry out its mandate. Meeting minutes are available as follows:

21 October 2016 meeting

15 February 2017 meeting


WG Coordinator

David Gould - IFOAM – Organics International, USA
e-mail: d.gould [at] ifoam.bio


Response to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations for Organic Aquaculture


e-mail: info [at] aquaculture.ifoam.bio