Is fish farming sustainable?

Is fish farming sustainable?

Aquaculture can grow with a low carbon footprint and good profitability.

The requirement for continued sustainable growth is connected with the problems of salmon lice.

Intensive research is being carried out into new methods of combating salmon lice, and most people believe that a solution will soon be found.

Aquaculture does not require much space

Aquaculture can grow without occupying much space. The fish farms, of which there are about 1,000, that are located along the Norwegian coast together cover a total area of sea of 200 km2, roughly the same size as the Folgefonna glacier in Hardanger.

Sustainable Aquaculture

In a situation where the world needs more food and few can deliver, aquaculture has acquired even greater responsibility.

The world's most effective foo

The world's most effective food production

Fish farming is currently the form of meat production that provides the provides the greatest return on the feed.

Sustainability is about the use of input factors in relation to yield. The smaller the amount of nutrients and proteins we use to produce food, the more sustainable it is.

Compared with other meat production based on concentrated feed, salmon farming provides a very effective utilisation of the energy and protein in the feed. Most is converted into pure meat.

From a global perspective, the total consumption of feed for farmed salmon is marginal in relation to other meat production.

The oceans are underexploited

The resources in the oceans are underexploited

We currently obtain less than 5% of our food from the oceans that cover over 70% of the planet's surface. Mapping of the marine environment and the opportunities it can provide as a future food store has only just begun. 

Aquaculture can show the way forward

Impoverished people in the third world must find new sources of food, and the farming of fish species such as pangasius and tilapia is becoming ever more important.

Aquaculture is a renewable source of food and globally, aquaculture has the knowledge, production methods and technology that can be adapted by other farmers and to other forms of food production.

Global Collaboration for increased sustainability

Aquaculture has taken the initiative to increase sustainability in many areas. The world's largest fish farm operator has entered into a joint initiative to achieve substantial and tangible progress towards more sustainable growth and production.


Global Salmon Initiative

The world's largest salmon farmers have formed GSI, which has defined standards for increasing sustainability.

Biosafety, access to feed and industry standard are key areas that the members are committed to improving.


FAO – the UN's food programme

GSI is working together with FAO, which is the UN's special body for increasing food safety, improving nutrition and increasing living standards.

The aim of the collaboration is to further develop sustainable aquaculture with increased efficiency to establish a substantial source of nourishment with broad distribution in the fight against malnutrition. 


ASC – certified as sustainable

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council has been set up by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and the IDH (Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative) to administer international standards for sustainable aquaculture.

ASC standards for seven types of seafood have been successfully launched until end September 2016 while four other standards are in development (Seriola/Cobia, Feed, Seaweed and Marine finfish).

The first certificates were awarded in 2012 and by the end of September 2016, 318 farms have been certified to be in accordance with ASC standards.


ASC – Certified farms


AWR – The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund

The foundation was set up in 2015 to finance and promote research into the ecosystem in Antarctica.

BioMar is a gold sponsor of the project and uses krill from Antarctica that is harvested by Aker BioMarine.

The catch is certified by the MSC in line with extra stringent principles for resource management.

Agenda 21

Agenda 21 - Principles for increased sustainability

The backdrop to many of the standards in use today for sustainability was established in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. This is where Agenda 21 - an action plan for the 21st century - was adopted.

The industrialised part of the world was given special responsibility for a more sustainable pattern of production and consumption. It is still the case that the wealthy part of the world accounts for a quarter of the world's population, but uses three quarters of the world's resources.

The principles of Agenda 21

  • Cautiousness with risks, uncertainties and irreversible processes
  • Reliable evaluation of natural values and conservation of nature
  • Long-term environmental considerations make take precedence over short-term economic considerations
  • Coordination of environmental, social and economic goals in planning and actions
  • Democratic participation in decision-making processes
  • Preservation of biological diversity
  • Fairness between generations and global perspectives
  • Commitment to the use of best practice