How salmon farming to their sustainable future carpentry

Farmed salmon is often seen as the solution to overfishing called. Used to have salmon farming a pretty bad reputation, but thanks to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council which is responsible nurseries certifies they work on a clean future.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway © ASC

The population on earth increases, more and more people belong to the middle class and there is by authorities searched for a healthy diet that obesity inhibits. Piece by piece the reasons the industry gives for more fish to be produced. Fish is a healthy source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega 3.


Is it at all possible to grow salmon hand-in-hand with nature conservation?

We visited a salmon farming facility of the market leader Marine Harvest in Ålesund, Norway. Together with Julie Døvle Johansen of WWF Norway, Barbara Janker of ASC and Geir Burrows of Marine Harvest , we visited a local salmon farming facility that operates according to the strictest conditions. The farming of Atlantic salmon has a long tradition in Norway, and the government looks for the last few years sure that the industry is not too much damage. Norway is not only known because of the zalmindustrie, but also for its beautiful, unspoiled nature. But is that even possible: salmon farming hand in hand with conservation? We sought it out.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway © ASC

‘Tiny on the zalmboerderij’

During our trip to a salmon farming facility of Marine Harvest in Norway, we took the boat from Ålesund to a farm, which, thanks to a modern equipment and strict control in accordance with the ASC standards of responsible work. Although the Norwegian fjords, the beautiful surroundings offer, a visit to a salmon farming facility any romantic trip.


Like most large-scale farms is also a salmon farming facility an area where animals as quickly as possible merchandise should be converted.

Like most large-scale, modern farms is also a salmon farming facility an area where animals as quickly as possible merchandise should be converted. That the salmon merrily in the around seem to jump into their nets is the only caressingly aspect of the sector. And actually do all the salmon that is because they are at least once a day out of the water, have to jump to the press in their bodices to neutralize it.

Who is a romantic piece of salmon to eat, so a with bare hands, have to go catch it. Romantic and sustainable, however, are not synonyms and we should be our image of responsible breeding is not swayed by idyllic fantasies from children’s books.

Why salmon grow?

It is estimated that in we are in 2050 with 9 billion people the earth will be inhabited. Assuming that not everyone fully vegan will eat in the future, it is more than necessary to fish farms radically more sustainable.

The man has the seas almost have been fished out, and the biodiversity under water a lot shook up. All the salmon needed for the fish-eating population to feed in the wild fish is therefore not a sustainable solution. In addition, it is much easier to a profitable business model to build a constant supply of salmon instead of to hope for sufficient salmon while fishing at sea.


All salmon that is needed in the wild to go fishing is not a sustainable solution.

Growing salmon in tanks in the sea or on land, aquaculture is mentioned. It is already for decades done and the chance that you several times already, the fish have eaten, who was grown very large. The half of the salmon on our plates was grown by the aquacultuurindustrie. Farmed salmon does not always have an equally fine reputation. That bad reputation stems according to the industry mainly from the past, when salmon farming, little to none took account of the impact on the environment and animal welfare. “The figures that it cites, are from ten years ago”, says Geir Holen. But even now there are nurseries that are more harm than the seas can handle.

Our planet exists for thirty percent of land and seventy percent of water. The land is occupied by buildings, fields, roads, livestock, and a bit of wild nature. “We want as little as possible land waste and our oceans are bets to produce food. Currently, only two per cent of our waters used for food production. Unexplored terrain so that for a lot of potential,’ says Barbara Janker (ASC).

But the frontline is not to say that the nurseries are free game have or should get. The health of our oceans is very important and also by fish to grow can the ecosystem be ruined. ‘The greater the aquacultuurindustrie in addition, the bigger its footprint will be. There are already lots of improvements in the sector, but we must not rest on our laurels, ” explains Julie Døvle Johansen of WWF.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council: the lifesaver?

If you want salmon on the menu, but don’t know which salmon from the supermarket recognised it was grown? Look for the green ASC-certificate.

In 2010 , the independent non-profit Aquaculture Stewardship Council in the Netherlands, founded by WWF and IDH. This was the result of the Aquaculture Dialogues; conversations since 2004 were made by more than 2000 ngos, scientists, farmers, retailers and other stakeholders within the aquacultuurindustrie. The participants agree that it is necessary for the future of aquaculture is sustainable.

The ASC has, on the basis of these discussions standards drawn up in which the participating aquaculture farms must adhere to socially responsible and environmentally friendly. The standards were established on the basis of scientific research. ASC is the only non-profit that certificates issued to aquacultuurkwekerijen member of ISEAL.

ASC selected twelve species that an ASC-certificate can achieve when they meet the standards. The species were chosen on the basis of their impact on the environment and society, their market value and the extent to which they are internationally traded. To a ASC-certificate to be awarded them by an independent third-party verified. That third party audits to go after or on the 152 social and environmental requirements of the ASC are met.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway: the fish are stunned before they doodgemept. © ASC

Some important points from the long list of requirements a focus on more transparency, more monitoring of the seabed, strict control on zeeluisniveau, enough water for the fish to swim in and the use of non-medicinal solutions instead of antibiotics.

Five years ago, were the first ASC-certificates were issued for salmon. At this moment, there are 516 aquaculture farms in 36 countries and those with ASC-certificates to work. Of these nurseries are located, 209 in only 9 countries, mainly in Norway. The main markets for ASC products are the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Germany. The Belgian consumer is asking for sustainable fish.

Critics argue, however, that only financially powerful companies can be certified and that one of the objectives of ASC is that aquaculture can continue to exist. The auditing of the auditors by the companies themselves and paid to be. The money that the fish farms need to invest, to the work that auditors perform to pay. Or they get to the end of the ride now receive a certificate or not, they have the controllers anyway pay. Certificate holders must have a percent to give it to the ASC of the total sales of certified products with the ASC logo. The use of the logo is optional, but whom a certificate has been achieved will, of course, that on its product place to inform the consumer.

Challenges for the aquaculture

What precisely are the problems of the aquaculture farms have to deal with? From where comes that bad name and what are the possible solutions?

In a nursery where everything is going well, they have little to very limited burden of zeeluizen, don’t give them antibiotics on the salmon, the fish do that for a large part from plant sources is made, and the seabed beneath and around the tanks are not contaminated. This is an example of good practice, but as you could guess, that is not the norm.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway. In this building, stay young salmon – melted – for them to the zeenetten. They receive vaccines administered. © ASC

Zeeluis and other diseases

Salmon frequently suffer from zeeluizen. These nasty parasites pests especially salmon in Chile, but also in Norway, they get to deal with this problem. In Norway it is allowed to 0.5 louse per fish to have in a nursery, but Marine Harvest leaves only 0.2 louse per fish.


Prevention is better than cure in the case of zeeluizen.

Prevention is better than cure in the case of zeeluizen, because these persistent critters are not easy to eradicate. That there are some lice on adult salmon is not a disaster, but for the wild zalmpopulatie are these critters a big problem. The young salmon in the wild during a swim along the nets of farmed salmon lice increase, and so shall be cut off.

In the past, were lice in the basins mainly treated with antibiotics, but ten years ago the Norwegian fishing industry stopped. In place of antibiotics in the basin to throw – what the sea and the fish, neither – get the salmon in the basins are released vaccines against bacterial and viral infections administered. In very exceptional cases, the fish medication, but in the last few years were not on any of the sites of Marine Harvest in Norway – ASC and conventional antibiotics used. Both the vaccines as the other medication will be in very small amounts administered, so there is no effect on the health of the consumer is observed.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway: The salmon get for the picture to eat with the hand, but actually, this happens via a pipe system and an employee which buttons operate. © ASC

To lice to avoid, in a natural way is the best to order salmon a lot of space in their tanks and schoonmaakvisjes to swim between the salmon. In Norway the rule is that in a basin of at least 97.5% of water must exist, and the other 2.5% is filled in by salmon . For example, the salmon enough to scoot around and jump up. Furthermore, they also use rinses with warm water to keep the lice to fight.

Contaminated seabed

Even though the salmon from responsible nurseries enough place, swimming is still much more in one location than in the wild. That is to say that the excrement of the salmon, all fall down and at the bottom of the marine environment.


It is very important that there is regular soil analyses are done to check whether the seabed is not polluted and biodiversity is not disturbed.

Also fish bait on the seabed is routed, can be detrimental to the environment. meticulously plan how much feed is given, it is therefore very important. So fling the companies do not give money away and pollute the seabed as little as possible. With cameramonitors and a full-time labor force to the buttons, get the fish exactly as much feed as they want and can. Thanks to this employee with a controler the fish forages can fish farming is already a big part of this problem.

So it is very important that there is regular soil analyses are done to check whether the seabed is not polluted and biodiversity is not disturbed. The tests need to happen during peak times in the production. The sites that an ASC certificate want to achieve should not only excellent scores in case of the soil under the basins, but also in regular soil analyses in the run time environment.

Controversial fish food


Fish food for farmed fish is controversial because there is enter a lot of wild fish.

One of the most common criticisms of farmed fish is that for a kilo of farmed fish there is a lot of pounds of wild fish are needed in the form of fish food. So the argument that the number of fish in our seas to unwind, thanks to farmed fish is not really on, since they wanted to catch fish and then feeding them to farmed fish. All joking aside. To an ASC certificate is to be achieved, there is therefore a maximum of 1.1 kilograms of wild fish to be used for 1 kilogram of farmed fish.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway: the food that the fish get makes for quite some controversy. © ASC

At Marine Harvest, they use their own fish food and they managed to 0.77 kg of wild fish per kilogram of farmed fish. There is research done to make that percentage even lower and as far as possible plant-based ingredients, such as algae, to use the salmon to feed. What is happening in their fish food, can be found in the annual report that is available online.


A salmon would actually be grey instead of pink, he had no carotenoids food.

The diet and farmed salmon must meet what the fish in the wild would eat. So would a salmon is actually grey instead of pink, he had no carotenoids food. Wild salmon eat shrimp and other shellfish and with the carotenoid astaxanthin in these animals to its pink color. Salmon can be found that are not only delicious, the antioxidants in the crustaceans are also good for their health. Also the kweekzalmen get astaxanthin administered and are just like their wild family beautiful pink.

Free Willy

The kweekzalmen sit in large nets in the sea and do not come into contact with the wild salmon. But sometimes there is something wrong and escape the kweekzalmen out of their basins. Then it is all hands on deck to which salmon return to catch. The salmon farming detect the escapes to the government and calling fishermen to come and help.

That is necessary because various environmental groups fear for the genetic mixing of wild and farmed species. Biologists suspect that it may not be as rapid, because the breeding of these two species is not easy, but better to be safe than sorry of course. Online you can all the escapes of the past few years, months, and weeks in Norway follow. The Norwegian government insists that there are very transparent about communicating and everything possible is done to escapes to avoid.

A salmon farming facility Marine Harvest in Alesund, Norway. The eggs are deposited in fresh water hatched in buildings of the fish farms. The melted – young salmon – continue for about six months in tanks until they are ready for the nets in the sea. © ASC

Eye on the future

The aquacultuurindustrie must become more sustainable if they want to continue to exist and expand. There is no doubt about that. As with all food companies – and certainly those in the animal products act – means growth , above all, more profit for the companies and more problems for the environment.


The aquacultuurindustrie must become more sustainable if they want to continue to exist and expand.

In Norway, the government issues licenses to companies that have innovative, sustainable solutions for the aquaculture industry. That’s smart, because that way jump, a lot of companies in the durable cart. If they own a piece of the action by era, they will not let go. Even companies from the oil industry are starting to play on sustainable methods of fish cultivation.

Researchers are hard at work experimenting with new types of tanks. These inventions range from badachtige containers to fully closed eiervormige containers or a basin that the ‘donut’ is called. There are a lot of votes to the standard of this kind of closed basins, water treatment systems get built. No dirty mess on the sea floor, less chance of zeeluizen and no escapes are possible.


Provisional standing innovations are still in their infancy, and they are very expensive.

Provisionally that promising innovations are still in their infancy, and they are very expensive. But the more the consumers indicate that they have sustainable seafood requirements, the more money pumped in this kind of innovations.

Voice so with your wallet and buy rather have less fish, but with a certificate then more fish of questionable origin. A certificate may not be a panacea, but packs the biggest problems of aquaculture is strict and puts pressure on the industry to innovate.

For the fifth time organise ASC, MSC and the WWF ‘The Conscious Visweek’ from 25 september to 1 October 2017. The objective of ‘the Conscious Visweek’ consumers to inspire them to choose to fish from a demonstrably sustainable fisheries (MSC) or a responsible nursery (ASC).

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