SAMAQ Guidelines and Standards

The following SAMAQ Guidelines and Standards have been based on the  GAA/BAP Certification Standards and Guidelines of Finfish and Crustacean Farms.  They have been carefully selected on the basis of promoting  responsible practices for the sustainable operation and further development of the sector in KSA,  as well as for safeguarding – and assuring- the highest food safety standard of the products of the sector.


  • Worker’s Health & Safety
  • Environmental Protection and Conservation
  • Health and Welfare of Cultured Organisms
  • Biosecurity
  • Food safety and Quality

Property Rights & Regulatory Compliance

The farm operator shall comply with local and national laws and environmental regulations, and provide current documentation that demonstrates legal rights for land use, water use, construction, operation and waste disposal.


1.1: Current documents shall be available to prove legal land and water use by the farm. (BAP point 1.1)

1.2: Current documents shall be available to prove all business and operating licenses have been acquired. (BAP point 1.2)

1.3: Current documents shall be available to prove compliance with applicable environmental regulations for construction and operation. (BAP point 1.3)

Worker’s Health & Safety

Since working on an aquaculture farm work can be potentially dangerous due to manual errors in the use of machinery, the risks of drowning and electrocution, and the use of hazardous materials, farm operators shall comply with national labor laws to assure adequate worker safety. 

Safety equipment such as goggles, gloves, hard hats, life jackets and ear protection, shall be provided when appropriate. Machinery shall have protective guards or covers where appropriate, and electrical devices shall be correctly and safely wired.

Both local and foreign workers may be employed at farms.

Workers shall have easy access to safe drinking water. Living quarters (where applicable) shall be well ventilated and have adequate shower and toilet facilities. Trash and garbage shall not accumulate in living, food preparation or dining areas.


2.1: Safe drinking water shall be readily available to employees. If meals are provided, they shall be wholesome and commensurate with local eating customs. (BAP point 3.20)

2.2: Running water, toilets and hand-washing facilities shall be readily available to employees. (BAP point 3.21)

2.3: In the event of accidents or emergencies, the company shall provide basic medical care, including access to or communication with medical authorities. Additionally, first aid kits shall be readily available to employees, and any expired content shall be replaced. (BAP point 3.22)

2.4: Protective gear and equipment in good working order shall be provided for employees (e.g., eye protection for welding, gloves for shop work, boots for wet areas). Auditor to verify deployment. (BAP point 3.23)

Environmental Protection and Conservation

The practice of aquaculture requires water and therefore aquaculture producers have to accept that the activity has an impact on this resource and be committed to preserve it and conserve it. Unnecessary water use must be avoided.

In general, all aquaculture farms should be designed, developed and managed with a view to the equitable and efficient use of resources. Aquaculture producers shall use only those sites that are compatible with:

1. Long-term sustainable operations,

2. Acceptable ecological effects.

Best efforts should be made for aquaculture to integrate harmoniously with the surroundings of the site.

However, aquaculture remains a man-made activity and inherent with this is some impact.  It is to the interest of the aquaculture producer to minimize this impact and keep the farming environment as close to its natural state as possible.

Since, only a portion of the nutrients added to aquaculture facilities, to increase production, is converted to animal tissue, the remainder becomes waste that can cause increased concentrations of nutrients, organic matter and suspended solids in and around culture systems.

In land-based farms discharge effluents during water exchange or when growout units are cleaned or drained for harvest. Effluents can contain nitrogen, phosphorus, suspended solids and organic matter at greater than ambient concentrations.

The substances in effluents can contribute to eutrophication, sedimentation and high oxygen demand in receiving water. Effluents with low dissolved-oxygen concentrations or high pH can negatively affect aquatic organisms in receiving water bodies.

Accordingly, marine cage farms have the potential to cause environmental harm due to sediment accumulation under farms. The causes include settlement of feces and uneaten food, detachment of fouling debris from nets or sloughing of antifouling materials.

Feed, Fishmeal and Fish Oil Conservation

Correct feed and feeding practices reduce wastage, assuring better water quality, good health and farm performance.  Therefore feeds should be properly composed and manufactured and, where possible, labelled and providing the correct granular or pellet sizes for the size of the cultured organism. Excessive feeding should be avoided since this can result in feed wastage that may cause water quality deterioration.

The majority of feeds manufactured for use in aquaculture contain fishmeal and fish oil as protein and lipid sources. Although fishmeal and fish oil are renewable resources derived primarily from small fish that are not generally utilized for direct human consumption, there are limits to the amounts of these products the world’s oceans can supply.

The SAMAQ program therefore supports the use of protein feed ingredients derived from terrestrial sources, as well as fishmeal and fish oil produced from fish processing and fishery by-products. Fishery-based ingredients from wild sources should come from responsibly managed fisheries and no IUU (Illegal, Unreported & Unregulated) fisheries).

In addition, by improving the efficiency with which feed is converted into fish/shrimp biomass, farmers can lessen the amount of fishmeal and fish oil used. More efficient feed conversion also has a direct beneficial impact on water quality and limits the release of excess nutrients to the environment.

Aquaculture feeds are typically manufactured at commercial facilities and delivered to farms. Farmers shall obtain feed from suppliers that provide reliable information on the crude protein and fishmeal and fish oil content in the feeds.

Farmers shall record the characteristics of all feeds used, the total amounts of each feed used each year and the total annual fish/shrimp production.

Feed-Conversion Ratio

The feed-conversion ratio is a measure of the amount of feed needed to produce a unit weight of the culture species. Farms shall calculate and record FCR yearly using the following equation:

Feed-conversion ratio = Annual feed use (MT) ÷ Net fish harvested (MT)

The feed-conversion ratio is also known as the economic FCR. Note that economic FCR is very sensitive to survival rate, rising sharply if the survival rate drops significantly. For precise calculation, the total weight of stocked juveniles is subtracted from the total weight of the harvested fish/shrimp.


3.1: The farm shall maintain accurate records of daily feed inputs. (BAP point 6.2)
3.2:The farm shall record the characteristics of all feeds used, the total amounts of each feed used each year and the total annual crustacean or fish production. (BAP point 9.20 )
3.3: The farm shall calculate and record a yearly feed-conversion ratio for completed crops. (BAP point 9.3)

Stocking Sources and GMOs

Juveniles from the wild shall not be stocked. Certified farms shall comply with governmental regulations regarding the use of native and non-native species, and genetically modified aquaculture species.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs or transgenic organisms) are defined as organisms that have been genetically modified by artificial transfer of genetic material from another species. Sterile or sex-reversed organisms and their offspring, and organisms created by hybridization and polyploidy are not GMOs.

The  SAS does not endorse the use of genetically modified aquatic organisms in aquaculture since it is concerned about the maintenance of the natural characteristics of the products, in addition to the environmental qualities of biodiversity. However, the results of genetic research may play an important part in the future development of global food production. SAS, under the guidance of ADMEWA may review their position on this topic if such developments are acceptable to the consumer and do not pose any safety or environmental problems.

Should genetically modified fish or crustaceans be commercialized in the future, producers shall comply with all relevant national regulations regarding such organisms. Since some consumers do not desire genetically modified foods, they should be provided with reliable information to enable informed food choices.

Aquaculture farms shall keep records of their sources and purchases of stocking material and record the number stocked in each culture unit for each crop. During site inspection, documentation of compliance with government regulations relating to the import of fry or postlarvae shall be available. The farm must maintain active communication links with the ADMEWA to verify international importation requirements.


3.4: The facility shall maintain accurate records of the species farmed and, where relevant, any significant stock characteristics, including but not limited to non-native, specific pathogen-free, specific pathogen-resistant, hybrid, triploid, sex-reversed. (BAP point 10.1)

3.5: For any imports of live aquatic organisms for aquaculture purposes, the relevant ADMEWA permitting documents shall be made available for inspection, even if imported fry were purchased from an intermediary. (BAP point 10.2)

3.6: The facility shall keep records of sources and purchases of stocking material, and record the number stocked in each culture unit for each crop. (BAP point 10.3)

Control of Escapes

The escape of domesticated and/or non-native culture species or the release of their eggs or larvae could lead through interbreeding to the alteration of the gene pools of local crustacean or fish populations. Escapes of non-native species could also lead to competition with native species for food and/or habitat, and possibly have other detrimental ecological consequences. Diseases can also be transmitted from escapees to wild fish and other aquatic organisms.

Typically escapes occur when holes develop in nets due to wear and tear, collisions with boats, human error or attack by large predators. Damage can also occur during severe weather, which can tear nets and lead to substantial losses. Escapes sometimes happen when fish are removed from the water for grading or harvesting, or if net meshes are too large for the smallest fish stocked in the cages.

Aquaculture producers must seek to minimize the potential risks that are presented by farmed escapes to the wild. Certified farms shall take all practical steps to prevent escapes and minimize possible adverse effects on aquatic wildlife if escapes occur.

Producers shall, in the event of escapes, co-operate and inform the respective authorities to assure that appropriate actions will be taken.  In more detail, all incidents involving animal escapes shall be accurately documented. Farms should demonstrate reductions in escapes over time. All systems shall be designed to minimize the escape of culture animals.

Ponds and other culture systems shall have intact screens on water inlets and outlets. Acceptable filter devices include a series of mesh screens capable of screening all water, dry-bed filters constructed with gravel and sand, microscreen solids filters, and pond traps with screened discharge. Production facilities shall be constructed so as to prevent overtopping by storm surges, waves or flood water. When heavy rainfall is expected, pond levels should be drawn down to prevent the rain from raising water levels and overtopping embankments.

Cages, nets and pens shall be tagged and maintained in good condition, and records of repairs shall be kept. Periodic inspections of mooring lines shall be documented. Jump nets that extend above the water line should surround the perimeters of net cages.

Cages and pens should be placed in areas where there is little danger of collisions with boats or floating debris and where heavy waves are not likely to damage them. Placement of cages and pens in navigable waters need approval from the Coast Guard authorities. Divers or underwater cameras shall periodically inspect cages for holes, rips and tears.

If an escape is known or suspected to have occurred, the cause shall be investigated immediately, and steps shall be taken to correct it. These actions shall be documented in farm records.

If, after investigation, there are grounds for believing an escape occurred, the fish remaining in the cage or cages shall be counted, if and/or when water and welfare indicators indicate this can be done without causing excessive distress to the fish, and any loss of inventory shall be recorded.


Control of Escapes

3.7: All holding, transport and culture systems shall be designed, operated and maintained to minimize the release of eggs, larval forms, juveniles and adult animals. (BAP point 11.1)

3.8: Screens and nets sized to retain the smallest farmed animals present shall be installed on water outlet pumps, pipes or sluices. Screens, nets or other controls shall be installed on or near pump intakes to minimize the introduction of local aquatic fauna.  (BAP point 11.2)

3.9: All incidents involving escapes of aquaculture animals shall be accurately documented. (BAP point 11.4)

3.10: Cages, nets and pens shall be tagged and maintained in good condition, and records of repairs shall be kept. Periodic inspections of mooring lines shall be documented. Jump nets that extend above the water line should surround the perimeters of net cages. (BAP point 11.5)

Storage, Disposal of Farm Supplies and Wastes

Fuel, lubricants and agricultural chemicals shall be stored and disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. Paper and plastic refuse shall be disposed of in a prompt, sanitary and responsible way. Excessive accumulation of waste and/or discarded farm supplies and equipment shall be removed and disposed of responsibly.

Farms use fuel, oil and grease to power and lubricate vehicles, pumps, aerators and other mechanical devices. The main agricultural chemicals used in aquaculture include fertilizers, liming materials and zeolite. Some farms use insecticides, herbicides, parasiticides and algicides. Other products employed include preservatives, paints, disinfectants, detergents and antifoulants.

Fuels and some fertilizers are highly flammable and/or explosive, and pesticides, herbicides and algicides are toxic. They shall therefore be considered potential hazards to workers. Spills or careless disposal of petroleum products and agricultural chemicals can also affect aquatic organisms and other wildlife in the immediate vicinity, and result in water pollution over a wider area.

Farms generate considerable waste that can cause pollution, odors and human health hazards on the farm and in surrounding areas when not disposed of properly. Human food scraps, out-of-date feed, other organic waste, and discarded equipment or supplies can attract pests and scavengers. Runoff from refuse piles can cause pollution and contaminate ground water.

Empty plastic bags and other containers used for feed, fertilizer and liming materials do not decompose quickly. They can be a hazard to animals.

Therefore, all fuel, lubricants and agricultural chemicals shall be labeled and safely stored. Used chemicals shall be disposed of in a responsible manner.

Oil leaks from tractors, trucks and other equipment shall be prevented through good maintenance. Oil changes and refueling shall avoid spills, with used oil sent to a recycling center.

Chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, algicides, sodium metabisulfite used in shrimp, and detergents shall be stored in locked, well-ventilated water-tight buildings. Warning signs shall be posted.

Feed shall be properly stored off the floor and away from walls, and protected from moisture, pests and other contaminants.

Fertilizers, liming materials, salt and other less hazardous agricultural chemicals shall be stored under a roof, where rainfall will not wash them into surface water. Particular care shall be taken with nitrate fertilizers, which are strong oxidants that are particularly explosive when contaminated with diesel fuel or other oils.

Trash, garbage and other farm waste, including discarded farm machinery and equipment, shall not be dumped in mangrove areas, wetlands or vacant land, or allowed to accumulate on farm property. Such waste shall be disposed of responsibly. Composting shall be done by a procedure that does not create an odor problem or attract wild animals.

Paper and plastic should be recycled if possible. Waste collection for recycling requires readily accessible waste containers that are serviced at regular intervals. All containers must be appropriately labeled with risk indicators (poisonous/explosive, etc.).


3.11: Fuel, lubricants, feed and agricultural chemicals shall be labeled, stored, used and disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. (BAP point 13.1)

3.12: Fuel, lubricants and agricultural chemicals shall not be stored near feed, in employee housing or kitchen areas, or near harvest equipment and supplies. (BAP point 13.2)

3.13: Fuel, lubricant and chemical storage areas shall be marked with warning signs. (BAP point 13.3)

3.14: Precautions shall be taken to prevent spills, fires and explosions, and procedures and supplies shall be readily available to manage chemical and fuel spills or leaks. Designated staff shall be trained to manage such spills and leaks. (BAP point 13.4a)

3.15: Garbage from housing and food waste shall be retained in water-tight receptacles with covers to protect contents from insects, rodents and other animals. (BAP point 13.5)

3.16: Garbage and other solid waste, including fouling organisms, shall be disposed of to comply with local regulations and avoid environmental contamination and odor problems (e.g., recycling, burning, composting or placing in a legal landfill). (BAP point 13.6)

3.17: Household trash and other farm wastes shall not be dumped in mangrove areas, wetlands or other vacant land and shall be removed promptly and properly to avoid accumulation . (BAP point 13.7)

3.18: Discarded farm supplies and equipment (e.g., tires, pallets, bags, barrels, aeration paddles or engines) shall not be dumped in mangrove areas, wetlands or other vacant land, and shall be removed properly to avoid excessive accumulation. (BAP point 13.8)

3.19: Measures shall be taken to prevent infestation by animal and insect vectors and pests. (BAP point 13.9)

Health and Welfare of Cultured Organisms

Contemporary societal trends seek to avoid needless animal suffering, numerous regulations address animal welfare. Although few such regulations address crustaceans and fish, many consumers would like to know that farmed aquatic animals were produced by humane techniques.

When farmed animals are exposed to continuing stress, their feed consumption and growth rates can decline. Stressed animals are also less resistant to diseases, and mortality usually increases.

Animal suffering can be prevented and production efficiency enhanced by applying good husbandry techniques to avoid stressful culture conditions.

Producers shall thus demonstrate that all operations on farms are designed and operated with animal welfare in mind, and maximum survival shall be sought.  In more detail:

  • Farms shall provide well-designed facilities for holding and rearing crustaceans and fish with adequate space. The temperature and chemical composition of culture water should be appropriately maintained, and changes in water quality should be made slowly so the species being cultivated can adjust to the changes. Adequate levels of dissolved oxygen shall be maintained.
  • Aquaculture farms should minimize stressful situations during handling by limiting crowding time and time out of water. Culture conditions should be managed to avoid situations that could lead to stress, injury or disease.
  • Accessible, dead animals shall be removed from ponds or cages at least daily and disposed of properly.
  • Farm staff shall regularly inspect the culture facility, noting water quality as well as the appearance (e.g., fin condition) and behavior (e.g., loss of appetite) of the animals in their charge. Swift action shall be taken to correct deficiencies or symptoms.
  • The crowding and handling of aquacultured animals during harvesting and transport are potentially stressful, so measures shall be taken to prevent unnecessary animal suffering.
  • Live transport of animals should maintain adequate water quality during transport. This usually requires the application of mechanical aeration or oxygenation in the transport containers. Temperature control may also be necessary.
  • Feed appropriate for the culture species should be offered at regular intervals. Although fasting periods may be needed to enable harvesting in hygienic conditions, they should be minimized.


4.1: Feeding shall be managed to avoid stress caused by under- or overfeeding. (BAP point 14.2)

4.2: Facility staff shall make regular inspections of the culture facility, water quality, and behavior and condition of crustaceans or fish. (BAP point 14.4)

4.3: Disease outbreaks shall be managed through rapid diagnosis and treatment, and when necessary, humane slaughter. (BAP point 14.5)

4.4: Humane slaughter techniques shall be used that are appropriate for the culture species. (BAP point 14.6)


Disease of aquacultured animals is considered by many to be the single largest threat to the growth and stability of the global aquaculture industry. The spread of diseases affecting aquaculture crops has been traced, in many cases, to poor biosecurity at farms.  The aquaculture industry in the KSA has suffered dearly in the past (WSSV crises)

Mass mortalities occasionally occur at aquaculture farms, and dead carcasses or animal remains can potentially spread disease. When these mortalities occur, facilities shall have a plan to dispose of the carcasses through incineration or sanitary burial.

Biosecurity controls shall be in place to prevent the introduction and/or spread of disease agents and disease on the farm. These include regular disease surveillance, sanitation of equipment and personnel, quarantine of diseased animals and controlled movement of personnel and equipment. Farm staff and visitors shall be trained in and apply biosecurity measures.

Measures shall be taken to avoid the spread of disease within farm or to neighboring farms or client farms to which animals are transferred for further growout.

Proper biosecurity controls shall prevent the introduction or spread of disease agents within the farm. The likely vectors for these risks shall be identified in a biosecurity plan that includes specific control measures and at a minimum:

  • Identifies the likely disease risks for the culture species within its culture region.
  • Requires routine disease surveillance and characterization of the health status of the farm.
  • Identifies critical control points such as movement of animals and equipment, and farm access by visitors.
  • Establishes active control measures to reduce the risk of introduction and/or spread of disease agents past these control points.
  • Establishes hygiene and sanitization protocols and standards for equipment and personnel.
  • Establishes quarantine protocols for diseased animals, where possible.
  • Prevents the movement of personnel and equipment from diseased areas both within the farm and from neighboring farms.
  • Establishes protocols that allow the tracking of animal and equipment movements.
  • Establishes a visitor and delivery log.
  • Establishes a method of tracking actions taken to reduce the risk of disease and/or control disease if it occurs.

Where movement of equipment and personnel from diseased or suspect areas to other areas is unavoidable, cleaning and sanitization measures shall be employed to disinfect all equipment and personnel prior to entry to non-diseased areas.

Where slaughtering is conducted at the farm, blood water and other effluents generated through processing shall be contained or treated so they do not contaminate the environment or present a biosecurity risk.


5.1: The farm shall have in place biosecurity controls that seek to prevent the introduction and spread of disease agents and disease on the farm, including the sanitization of equipment and personnel when disease is suspected or confirmed at the farm site, and there shall be a biosecurity plan. (BAP point 17.1a)

5.2: Farm staff shall be trained in biosecurity procedures and shall, along with all visitors, comply with them. (BAP point 17.2)

5.3: A plan for prompt and responsible disposal of excessive mortalities of culture animals by incineration, burial, composting or removal by a competent contractor shall be available for inspection and applied. (BAP point 17.3)

5.4: Where slaughtering is conducted at the farm, blood water and other effluents generated through processing shall be contained or treated so they do not contaminate the environment or present a biosecurity risk. (BAP point 17.4)

Food safety and Quality

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Record Keeping and Traceability

Product traceability is a crucial component of the SAMAQ program. It interconnects links in the production chain and allows tracing of each harvested and sold lot p back to the culture unit and inputs of origin. Food quality and safety analyses by accredited laboratories can also be included. Traceability ultimately assures purchasers that all steps in the production process were in compliance with environmental, social and food safety standards.

Farms may utilize any traceability system that suits them. This can be an online system; the farm’s own in-house database, paper records, files and documents; or a combination thereof.

The record-keeping process requires a high degree of care and organization. To effectively establish product traceability, the following data shall be recorded for each culture unit and each production cycle:   

  • culture unit identification number
  • unit area or volume
  • stocking date
  • quantity of fingerlings or postlarvae stocked
  • source of fingerlings or postlarvae (hatchery)
  • antibiotic and drug use
  • sulfite use in shrimp
  • herbicide, algicide and other pesticide use
  • manufacturer and lot number for each feed used
  • harvest date
  • harvest quantity
  • transport document number (if applicable)
  • processing plant(s) or purchaser(s) (identify all if any harvest quantity goes to more than one plant or purchaser)


7.1: The facility shall operate an effective record-keeping system that provides timely, organized, accurate entries, performed and overseen by a designated trained person or team responsible for collecting the data, ensuring it is complete and accurate, and that traceability requirements are met. (BAP point 18.1)

7.2: The facility shall keep complete and accurate records for each culture unit and production cycle, including the culture unit identification number, unit area and volume, species stocked. (BAP point 18.2)

7.3: The facility shall keep complete and accurate records concerning any antibiotic or other drug use at both the hatchery and the farm. (BAP point 18.3)

7.4: Complete and accurate records shall be maintained on the use of sulfites or other approved food-processing aids/additives in shrimp, as well as the use of herbicides, algicides and other pesticides. (BAP point 18.4)

7.5: Complete and accurate records regarding manufacturer and lot numbers for each feed used shall be maintained. (BAP point 18.5)

7.6: The facility shall maintain complete and accurate records of the sources and numbers of postlarvae or fingerlings stocked, stocking dates and all feeds used for each culture unit. (BAP point 18.6)

7.7: Complete and accurate records regarding the harvest date, harvest quantity, movement document number (if applicable) and processing plant(s) or purchaser(s) shall be maintained. If product lots are destined to more than one plant or purchaser, each lot shall be separately identified. (BAP point 18.7)