It was over a decade ago that the first fish farm in the world earned ASC certification: Regal Springs’ Lake Toba tilapia farm in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Since then, more than 1,700 aquaculture farms around the world have become certified under ASC’s leading global standards. That represents nearly 2.5 million tons of seafood and seaweed harvested per year. This is a vital and ongoing transformation toward environmental and social responsibility for the aquaculture industry. But it all began with one fish.
Tasty, healthy tilapia
Tilapia is a fish with many health benefits and environmental credentials. High in protein and low in calories, tilapia is a good source of omega fatty acids, containing more omega-3’s per serving than beef, chicken or pork. It also provides a rich supply of nutrients from vitamins B12, C and E to calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, selenium, niacin, folate and more.
According to the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), “Seafood gets straight A’s” and tilapia is a top student.
“Research shows that seafood nutrition benefits children of all ages. That’s why the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Academy of Pediatrics both say kids should eat fish at least twice a week. Many seafood varieties have a mild flavor that suits a variety of your children’s favorite dishes. White fish like tilapia is great in tacos, quesadillas, pasta dishes and more.”
Tilapia is a low-mercury fish that is versatile, affordable to buy at the grocery store and easy to cook with. Its mild, delicate taste makes it a great choice for new seafood eaters and pescatarians, alike, while allowing fillets to take on flavor from whatever ingredients you enjoy using.
Regal Springs’ Marketing Manager Elizabeth Halle loves to cook with tilapia to that very point of ease of incorporation into any dish.
“There are options for every type of eater when it comes to tilapia,” says Halle. “It cooks quickly, takes on flavors well, and come out of the oven super tender. I know that I can make something that my 2-year-old daughter or my parents would love.”
Fish raised right
Tilapia has historically been of major importance to artisanal fishing and is now widely farmed in locations around the world because of its adaptability to a variety of environments.
Today, Regal Springs’ Lake Toba farm continues to abide by ASC’s certification standards, while achieving additional certification at farm sites in Honduras and Mexico.
“At Regal Springs we are very proud to have been a pioneer here,” says Petra Weigl, Regal Springs’ Managing Director for Europe.
“ASC certification brings us a host of benefits” adds Rudolf Hoeffelman, Managing Director Regal Springs Indonesia. “Well-organized data, which we share transparently through ASC audits and reporting; improved traceability, from feed to harvest, with the coming ASC Feed Standard that will drive even more improvements in feed sourcing at our farms; and continued improvements in social responsibility internally and with external parties.”
Regal Springs We Care sustainability program now spans a host of community and environmental welfare projects, indirectly supporting as many as 100,000 people.
Caretakers of the ecosystem
Regal Springs’ Indonesian tilapia farms sit directly in Lake Toba, the world’s largest volcanic lake. The lake, located in North Sumatra, covers more than 400 square miles, plunging to depths of nearly 1,600 feet. Deep, clean water is key to healthy local communities, healthy biodiversity and healthy tilapia. Regal Springs pays careful attention to protecting the gorgeous freshwater ecosystem of the region.
“We use floating cages that have very little impact on the natural lake environment,” says Weigl. “We continuously monitor the water quality to ensure it remains oxygen-rich and undisturbed by the farm’s activities. Among other factors that high water quality directly influences is the quality of Regal Springs tilapia, making it strong and healthy, and ensuring that we can totally forgo the use of additives.”
Regal Springs adheres to a zero waste or “whole fish” policy. Only about one-third of a whole tilapia is used for the fillets or loin cuts generally found at the grocery store. The remainder of their fish – skin, scales, bones, liver and more – is put to use in other industries. Rather than simply discarding unused portions of fish, Lake Toba tilapia contribute to dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers and even fish leather. Regal Springs also repurposes its tilapia fish oil into biofuel that powers some of their trucks and other equipment.
Hand in hand with local community
Regal Springs employs more than 400 people, making it one of the largest employers in the Lake Toba region. ASC certification requires they meet not only robust environmental criteria, but strong social responsibility standards covering fair wages and working hours, health and safety requirements, forming of workers’ unions, collaboration with local communities, and more.
Regal Springs’ social welfare commitments include providing a health insurance plan and hot meals, company health clinics, and free healthcare for employees, their families and nearby villages.
Teaching, literacy education and reforestation efforts, among other community engagement projects lead by Regal Springs.
Shop with purpose
“Regal Springs takes enormous pride in rearing our tilapia to the highest standards for the benefit of customers, fish lovers, foodies and, above all, in safeguarding our precious home – planet earth,” says Halle. “Look for the Regal Springs® logo and ASC’s sea green label when buying tilapia to ensure these high standards have been met.”
The next time you’re in the meat or seafood aisle, consider giving tilapia a try. It offers a simple, nutritious and family-friendly fish experience that you can feel good about. Shopping for ASC’s sea green label means your fish can be traced from shelf all the way back to the farm where it was responsibly raised.
For tips on doing the most with your tilapia, ASC and friends have cooked up some great ideas:
Banana Leaf Grilled Tilapia Veracruz
From Chef Nikki Stover
Oven Roasted Tilapia with Pumpkin Seed Tomatillo Sauce
From Regal Springs
Tilapia Eggs Benedict
From Regal Springs
Pistachio and Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Chile Lime Sauce
From the Seafood Nutrition Partnership
From the Seafood Nutrition Partnership