Fifteen major global farmed salmon producers have set up a joint initiative to speed progress toward more sustainably farmed salmon – a move the WWF says could “affect the food industry in a big way”.
The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) focuses on three priority areas: Biosecurity, feed sourcing and meeting industry standards, and has joined with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help boost the scheme’s profile and effectiveness.
“This is a game-changer,” said WWF’s senior vice president of market transformation Dr Jason Clay. “The salmon sector working together and embracing sustainability is going to radically change aquaculture - and affect the food industry in a big way. This commitment shows that these companies see sustainability as a pre-competitive issue, one that they can work on together to make progress more quickly.”
WWF launched the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogues nine years ago, resulting in Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard, which the GSI has adopted as a primary reference for its work.
“As an industry, we recognize that while we have made significant progress, there is still a lot to be done in terms of sustainability,” said GSI co-chair and CEO of Marine Harvest Alf-Helge Aarskog. “As a relatively young industry, we hope that through industry collaboration, research and sharing of knowledge, we can make the necessary changes to do better, and keep getting better.”
The initiative’s founders said in a statement that they aimed to focus on the three aspects of sustainability: Environmental impact, social contribution and economic growth. GSI hopes to improve the farmed salmon sustainability in ways that might not be possible if companies were to work alone.
Árni Mathiesen, assistant director general, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture, said: “GSI provides an opportunity to seriously address sustainability challenges as a commodity subsector and this could provide lessons on how a sustainable industry can be created and maintained, and we hope that we can transfer this experience to developing nations, in support of the expansion of their sustainable aquaculture industry, to provide greater sources of nutritious and healthy food.”