Since the worlds first government-sponsored ecolabel The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel) was launched in Germany in 1978, ecolabels have become increasingly more commonplace. Today there exists a number of ecolabels for the aquaculture industry. These include the Aquaculture Sustainability Council (ASC) – an initiative set up by WWF and IDH (Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative), with the aim of becoming “the world's leading certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed seafood”.
Other labels have a more specific focus, like the Irish Quality Eco-Salmon label developed by the Irish Sea-Fisheries Board, or on a specific aspect of sustainability like UK-based Soil Association’s organic certification. Some certifiers use a third-party licencing scheme, some are based on ISO standards. Others make their own claims, unverified by independent parties.
Regardless of form, ecolabels all have the same aim – to appeal to consumer’s environmental and/or societal ethics to drive sales of products.
Of particular concern to aquaculturalists interested in such schemes, for whom certification as well as environmentally-sound practices can come with increased financial costs, is if consumers actually care about ecolabels.