A Swiss owned, German based urban fish farm has won recognition from both Global GAP and the ASC for sustainable farming practices that include Ace Aquatec humane stunning technology. Fresh Corporation, which produces yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) from an RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) facility in Voelklingen, near Germany’s border with France, became the first closed containment marine farm in the world to achieve Global GAP certification in 2018. Then, last autumn, the company was able to add the ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) mark to its brand, too. Both certifying bodies confer invaluable sustainability credentials on approved producers, but to comply, stringent criteria must be met, including strict welfare standards.
At Fresh Corporation, animal welfare covers every stage of production, right up to harvesting, said operations manager Fritz Beindorff. The company has two Ace Aquatec Stunners, one of which is built into the yellowtail processing operation.
‘The Ace Aquatec Stunner played a big part in getting the certification,’ said Beindorff. ‘We treat our animals with the utmost respect regardless of certification schemes, but they do have an impact in the market, with both our retail and wholesale customers understanding the value of Global GAP and ASC.’ State veterinarians - who make regular scheduled as well as unannounced inspections – also insist that stunning methods adhere to welfare benchmarks.
‘They want to see how efficiently the fish are stunned and that the team knows how to use the equipment,’ said Beindorff. ‘They are very happy with the Ace Aquatec Stunner.’
Once fish are rendered unconscious by the stunner, they are bled manually, put on ice and then mostly delivered whole to local markets in Germany, but are also sold in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. They are reared in four separate, bio-secure RAS systems for risk mitigation, but each system has two connected tanks, for different size fish. The closed water cycle largely eliminates the need for fresh water, with a water renewal rate below one per cent per day. No chemicals, drugs or antibiotics are used in the disease-free environment.
‘The humane electric stunner certainly plays a major role in making the whole process work,’ said Beindorff. ‘With two or three staff, we can feed in the fish quickly and maintain a natural flow without overloading the stunner. It is very reliable.’
Fresh Corporation produces between 100-200 tonnes of yellowtail annually, with scope to expand to 400 tonnes. Fingerlings are imported from Chile and are on-grown for one year to 18 months, to be harvested at 1kg - 3.5kg, depending on market demand. The company - which won the Best Innovation in Aquaculture award at the Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture in Abu Dhabi in 2018 - is now planning to diversify into shrimp farming and intends to repurpose its second Ace Aquatec Stunner, previously used for gilthead sea bream, for the new venture.
‘This will be our first foray into the shrimp business and we are currently working with Ace Aquatec to adapt the stunner for the humane harvesting of this species,’ said Beindorff.