New Farmed Salmon Standards

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...


Farmed salmon has always been a subject of impassioned debate.

Some believe farmed salmon is an acceptable alternative to wild-caught salmon, while others see yet another food resource falling under harmful, industrialized standards.

Some, but not all, of the grievances attributes to farmed seafood are:

  • Escapees from these floating farms create huge problems for native fish.
  • Uneaten food and excrement accumulates, and the result is pollution.
  • Because of the highly populated pens, disease is rampant.

So, now, after eight years of debate and diplomacy, comes the news that the first global standards for salmon farming has been developed and (wait for it) will actually be implemented later this year.

Writing in The New York Times, Glenn Collins reports:

The 91-page document specifies 100 fish-farming standards, from the use of feed and antibiotics to pesticides and fish-cage construction, and is expected to be implemented later this year by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, a nonprofit monitoring group based in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The new set of standards could raise the bar for farm-raised salmon sold at retail outlets in the future, because it would enable certified aquaculture farms to display a retail label – on packaging or at store counters – designating salmon “A.S.C. Certified.”

Considering that “Organic” certification and labeling have proven to be major financial boons for the food industry, it’s no wonder there is strong interest to bring that range of choice to salmon.

“We’re all quite glad to have reached agreement,” said Katherine Bostick, the senior aquaculture program officer for the World Wildlife fund, which was a co-founder of the council and also helped found the Marine Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainably caught wild fish.

The development of the standard was accomplished by a nine-member steering committee participating in what it called a dialogue of 500 participants from government, academia, industry and nongovernmental organizations. Through the years, there were 16 meetings in cities around the globe, and during the complex process, many drafts of standards were submitted, revised and resubmitted

Among the steering committee members were the Wildlife Fund, the Pew Environment Group, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, the Norwegian Seafood Federation, SalmonChile Corporation, Fundacion Terram (a nonprofit Chilean group supporting sustainability) and Skretting, a fish-feed company.

On the surface, this development looks like a step in the right direction to us.

What is your opinion of farmed salmon versus wild salmon? Do you think these new standards will make eating farmed salmon safe?

Click here to read the article in full.

Photo Credit: Eden Rivers Trust Blog