Fifteen global farmed salmon companies, including Acuinova Chile, Scottish Sea Farms and Norway Royal Salmon, have launched a sustainability initiative that the companies say will reduce the impact of aquaculture on ecologically sensitive regions while keeping salmon reasonably priced and available.
The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) has been lauded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a game changer that will affect the entire global food industry. The GSI focuses on three key areas: biosecurity, sourcing sustainable feed and meeting industry standards.
It will work on reducing the impact of biosecurity, which refers to preventive measures to lower the risk of transmitting infectious diseases on salmon farms — specifically the spread of sea lice, a parasite that can hurt the health of fish and reduce farm productivity.
The WWF began the salmon aquaculture dialogue nine years ago. The GSI uses WWF’s Aquaculture Stewardship Council standard (a global standard for responsible seafood farming) as a benchmark. The salmon farm companies behind the GSI also include Bakkafrost, Blumar, Cermaq, Compañía Pesquera Camanchaca, Empresas AquaChile, Grieg Seafoods, Lerøy Seafood Group, Los Fiordos, Marine Harvest, Norway Royal Salmon, SalMar, Multiexport Foods SA and the Scottish Salmon Company.
About 60 percent of the world’s salmon production currently comes from farms, the salmon companies say. Farmed salmon has raised concerns for years because of the industry’s need for expansion and growth in line with the increasing demand for salmon, as well as environmentalists’ concerns about the impact of salmon farms on wild fish.
According to 2011 data from Seafoodsource.com, 1,600,000 tons of salmon came from farms, while 930,000 tons of wild salmon were caught. The US, European Union and Japan are the largest markets for salmon, consuming more than 85,900 tons in 2011. In the US, imports of fresh and frozen salmon reached 504.5 million pounds, valued at $1.9 billion.
The world’s main salmon producing nations are Norway, Canada, Chile and Scotland.
It’s not just salmon producers that are coming to the table to cooperate on sustainable measures — other seafood companies are also forming their own collaborations. In July, Albion Fisheries, Santa Monica Seafood, Seattle Fish Co. and other major seafood companies formed Sea Pact, an industry coalition to advance environmentally sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices.
Last October, NSF International began providing the Aquaculture Stewardship Council chain of custody certification for farmed fish. NSF officials say the chain of custody requirements for the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Marine Stewardship Council are similar, and that the aquaculture council’s requirements were added as an annex to MSC’s chain of custody standard.