Salmon farm certification standards too weak to protect wild salmon


June 14, 2012


The salmon farm performance standards that form the basis of the WWF initiated Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification process announced yesterday do not adequately protect wild salmon and the environment, according to the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR).

After seven years of hard work by numerous stakeholders CAAR has concluded that closed containment salmon farming is the only verifiable way to effectively reduce or eliminate the key negative environmental impacts of salmon farming and is on the record as formally voting ‘no’ to the standards in the steering committee vote .

CAAR is particularly concerned that the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue (SAD) standard falls short in a number of significant areas including elimination of disease transmission between farmed and wild fish and, addressing the risks from existing exotic species. While there are some important limits on the use and discharge of antibiotics and toxic sea lice chemicals, the standard does not eliminate them. The standard is intended to certify individual farms, and thus struggles to deal with the cumulative impacts of the industry and its potential expansion.

One significant concern is that the SAD standard does not compare salmon farm performance to ecological benchmarks. It compares salmon farms to other salmon farms. Recent science-based research on global aquaculture performance[i] and certification[ii] have indicated that while SAD certified farms would be better performers than farms not meeting the standard, the open net cage industry, as a whole, still has a significant negative environmental impact. The standard does not compare to other seafood, farmed or wild, making it hard for consumers to use it to select the most environmental seafood options.

CAAR member groups agree that while the SAD standards cannot ensure truly environmentally responsible practices, they are measurably stronger and based on a far more credible process than other standards such as those being promoted by the GAA (Global Aquaculture Alliance) Best Aquaculture Practices and Global Trust. The SAD also addresses key social and labour issues in a globally significant way.


About CAAR
CAAR was formed in 2001 to ensure salmon farming in British Columbia is safe for wild salmon, marine ecosystems, coastal communities and human health. Today the coalition has over 10,000 supporters across four continents and is comprised of the following conservation groups:
David Suzuki Foundation
Georgia Strait Alliance
Living Oceans Society
T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation

For further information, please contact:

Jay Ritchlin, Director of Marine and Freshwater, David Suzuki Foundation, (604) 961-6840
Kelly Roebuck, Sustainable Seafood Campaign Manager, Living Oceans Society, (604) 696-5044