Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)

Salmo salar

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Norway
Production method — Open net pen
Picture of Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Salmon are farmed in open net pens in the sea. Producing fish in open systems can cause environmental impacts such as: impacts of chemical and sea lice treatment usage; nutrient and organic waste deposition; outbreaks of disease; impacts on wild salmonids by transmission of sea lice, and escapes from farms. Salmon are carnivorous fish and rely on wild capture fisheries to produce their feed, MCS would like to see all these fish certified as sustainably managed. Due to the ongoing nature of as yet unresolved environmental impacts of salmon farming MCS is advocating a halt in industry expansion until these can be resolved.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 3

The ingredients that make up feed for Norwegian farmed salmon are responsibly sourced. In recent years the amount of fish contained in the diets has reduced and been replaced with vegetable proteins and oils.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: -4

The use of chemicals and antibiotics in Norwegian salmon farming remains a concern. Although antibiotic use has reduced considerably there remains a concern regarding those critical for human health. The use, and loss of efficacy of sea lice treatments and their wider impacts on other marine life needs urgent mitigation. Of equal concern is the risk of disease and parasite transfer to surrounding wild salmonid species and the subsequent impact this is having. Escapes remain an issue and the subsequent interaction with wild salmonid species, predator control, including by lethal measures is also a cause for concern.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 1

Welfare standards, including those for human slaughter are included in the Animal Welfare Act.



Criterion Score: 1

The regulation and management of the Norwegian salmon farming industry is mostly effective however as there remains a large sea lice and escape event issue it cannot be assessed as being wholly effective. Many producers are certified to recognised production standards or our working towards them.


Production method

Open net pen

Salmon are farmed in open net pens in the sea. These are floating cages suspended in the sea and held in place by moorings underneath the cages.


Salmon are termed “anadromous”, meaning during their lifecycle they move between fresh and marine waters; salmon farming attempts to mirror this lifecycle. Broodstock fish are moved to freshwater for spawning, where the eggs are also fertilised and hatched. The hatched fish (called fry) are also kept in freshwater and fed pellets manufactured from fish meal. At about 18 months the fish (now called smolts) are transferred to seawater cages where growth continues until market size is reached, usually at about 2 years.


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