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Salmon farming industry sets the bar in addressing sustainability concerns 2 minutes

  Mar 10, 2015

The launch of the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) in August 2013 was a landmark event in the evolution of the aquaculture industry. It was the first time that a sector had united in a precompetitive way to tackle sustainability issues.

GSI was founded by 15 global farmed-salmon producers from six countries that were determined to make significant progress towards implementing industry sustainability. Today, GSI comprises 17 companies and represents more than 70 per cent of the global salmon production industry.

In terms of recruitment, GSI is open to any farmed salmon producer that supports its mission and is willing to work towards its objectives.All members are committed to realising a shared goal of providing a highly sustainable source of healthy food to feed a growing global population, while minimising the sector’s environmental footprint and continuing to improve its social contribution.

It aims to do this by taking the highly sophisticated, technical know-how that already exists within the salmon farming industry and sharing it across all regions to benefit those companies that might not currently be as advanced.


Currently, GSI is focusing on three core areas of interest: biosecurity, feed and nutrition, and meeting industry standards.

Within biosecurity, GSI’s current priority is to progress the sharing of best practices with regards to sea lice and sea-lice treatment. Sea lice are a naturally occurring parasite found throughout the world’s oceans and on many fish species. However, infestations represent a significant challenge for the farmed-salmon industry as they have a detrimental effect on the health and welfare of the infected fish, and can reduce farm productivity. In particular, GSI members are spending significant time and resources looking into non-medicinal approaches to sea-lice management.

Meanwhile, a key aspect of the sustainability of salmon aquaculture is the amount of fishmeal and fish oil contained within feed supplies, both of which are finite resources. GSI wants to help the industry to continue to reduce its dependency on marine raw materials while retaining the historically high levels of nutrients and fatty acids.

Above all, GSI’s primary function remains to address environmental and social issues related to salmon farming throughout the world. To measure progress, all members have agreed to comply with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) environmental standard for salmon as their benchmark and will each seek to have achieved independent certification by 2020.

By October 2014, 13 GSI farms had achieved the ASC standard certification.


The major priority for GSI in 2015 will be the launch of a public dashboard where all members will be transparently reporting on a number of key sustainability indicators. The group is currently developing this dashboard and collecting data, and aims to have the dashboard live on its website in the coming months.

GSI says the indicators will relate to the following issues: feed and raw materials; the number of escapes per year; nutrient loading and carrying capacity; local environmental impact; disease and parasite transfer; chemical inputs; and social impacts.

Reporting on additional issues may be added as the initiative proceeds.

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