Page - May 21, 2010
Greenpeace is of the opinion that no fully credible certification system for sustainable seafood currently exists. Although Greenpeace acknowledges that GLOBALGAP provides valuable information for retailers regarding the standards of farmed fish and shrimp suppliers, Greenpeace does not currently endorse GLOBALGAP certification as an indicator of sustainability. Key reasons for this can be found in the 'Weaknesses' box below.



GLOBALGAP is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards, or Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), for the certification of farmed products, including some fish and shrimps, around the globe.  

GLOBALGAP began as EUREPGAP in 1997 as an initiative by retailers from the Euro-Retailer Produce Working Group (EUREP). British retailers in conjunction with supermarkets in continental Europe were the key players in developing the standards in response to the growing concerns of consumers about their food in relation to safety, animal welfare, and environmental and social impacts. Over the next ten years EUREPGAP gained in global significance and was re-branded as GLOBALGAP in 2007.  

The certification is a business to business guarantee of a standard rather than a consumer standard so certification labels do not appear on final products. However, GLOBALGAP standards are increasingly being citied by producers and retailers as evidence of a sustainable sourcing policy for farmed fish, so it has become an issue of public interest.

Main strengths and weaknesses of the GLOBAL GAP seafood certification programme


- Independence and well documented regulations

GLOBALGAP is independent from its Certifying Bodies (those that assess and certify farms and supply chains to the GLOBALGAP standards), and the Accreditation Body (which monitors the work of the Certifying Bodies). All the operational documents are of high quality and available online, and these provide a clear set of rules and regulations for suppliers, certifiers and auditors to follow.

- Standards are performance based

Certified fisheries must go beyond just having the right documents and systems in place and must be regularly monitored to show that they are putting the standards into practice.

- Accessible to small-scale farmers

The programme has a set of policies and projects that aim to make it accessible for small-scale farming operations. This is important to ensure that smaller operators are not disadvantaged by the extra costs and resources that are required to achieve certification, and have input as stakeholders.

- No use of wild-caught or genetically-modified animals

The standard does not allow fish or shrimp farms to be restocked with eggs or juveniles taken from the wild which avoids the problems associated with their collection, such as overfishing or bycatch. The standard does not allow the use of genetically modified (GM) farmed species, which protects the environment from contamination with GM organisms.


- There are substantial gaps in the environmental standards

The standards fail to adequately address some critical issues of aquaculture sustainability. The poor standards for sourcing fish feed is of particular concern. Farmed fish and shrimps may be fed with wild fish taken from overexploited and/or destructive fisheries. In addition, some other standards, such as for mangrove protection, are compromised by the scoring system and by a variety of inconsistencies.

- There are no socio-economic standards, merely recommendations

This is a serious concern as aquaculture has often been associated with human rights abuse and poor workers rights, especially for shrimp farms in Asia, Africa and South America, and for salmon farms in Chile.

Certification assessment documents have recently been made available on the website, however many assessments are not yet available. Finally, there is no 3rd party or “accreditation body” checking that the certification bodies are performing assessments and audits adequately.

- Poor transparency and stakeholder involvement

Certification assessments, and audit reports are not publically available, there are no opportunities for stakeholders to input into assessments or audits, and there is no appeal mechanism to allow external stakeholders to appeal certification decisions. This means there is no way to check how standards are actually applied, or to assess the competency of the certification process and all bodies involved.  

In addition, governance of the programme is limited only to those stakeholders that fall within the categories of suppliers/producers and retailers, and decision making processes with regard to governance and standard setting is not clear.


Greenpeace uses a certification assessment tool to evaluate and compare some of the most commonly used certification programs. In this context we have carefully assessed GLOBALGAP and other certification schemes and made a thorough judgment about these. For a more detailed overview of the issues raised here, please download the Briefing Greenpeace Assessment of the GLOBALGAP Certification Programme.

To obtain a copy of the certification assessment tool please e-mail our supporter services ()