Aquaculture Stewardship Council: sustainability educator, happy customer

17th March 2017, London. The independent, international, non-profit Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) was founded in 2010 to establish a sustainability standard for farmed fish, crustaceans and shellfish. “The ASC is underpinned by a credible, robust and transparent audit process that assures farms comply to the highest standards for social and environmental practices” explains Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO.

The ASC engages with international producers, companies in the supply chain and supermarkets to assure that its guidance and best practices are enacted across the aquaculture ecosystem. “Success comes through the improvements the programme drives in working practices and the reduced impacts on communities and to the environment,” continues Chris.

It uses several locally placed, independent agencies to deliver its independent assessment and certification services, covering environmental protection criteria as well as guidelines on food additives and social conditions. The ASC logo currently appears on over 5,300 products in 57 countries. As such, the organisation’s objectives lie around supporting such rapid growth at the same time as keeping a small footprint of staff and maximising the efficiency of resources.

The ASC is not a traditional charity, in which people give money and see an outcome based on that money. While income does come from grants in GBP, US$ and Euros, revenues are also generated through logo license fees in GBP, US$, Yen and Euros. This alternative model requires an alternative currency provider – one that offers the flexibility to manage multiple incoming and outgoing payments in a number of different currencies with ease and efficiency.

“Freemarket is an efficient currency tool for us in this regard,” says Chris. Key to the ASC’s success is simplicity, therefore, “ease of use, speed of access and better integration are all important.” For the ASC, efficiency as much as cost is pivotal in how they choose to conduct their foreign transactions (although it’s worth bearing in mind that Freemarket offer our services to charities at 0% commission).

“Ease of use, speed of access and better integration are all important”

So, what would Chris’ recommendations be for any organisation dealing with the kinds of financial challenges faced by the ASC? First, recognise up-front effort for grant applications. “Securing grant financing has heavy overhead dealing with funder bureaucracy for initial and early transactions. Thereafter it’s fairly smooth.”

Second, allocate resources for cash flow management. “Commercial income requires both system set-up and on-going management, including aged debtor strategies.”

And third, look to automation for efficiency gains. “The Freemarket system, once setup, is seamless. Not dealing with brokers regarding sales pitches and new product offers is a positive. As is not dealing with bank administration and increasing requirements.”

“The Freemarket system, once setup, is seamless”

It takes time and hard work to raise and deploy funds, and charities shouldn’t lose them to uncompetitive rates and hidden fees. A small amount of time and effort can go a long way, as evidenced by the ASC. Proactive management of FX practises enables cash flows to be optimised, allowing additional funds, time and resources to be targeted where they matter most.