Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)

Salmo salar

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Europe
Production method — Open net pen
Certification — GlobalGap certification
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: -1

Feed ingredients, both marine and terrestrial for GlobalGap certified salmon are traceable and encouraged to be responsibly sourced although this is not a requirement.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: -2

The environmental impacts of salmon production farmed to GlobalGap standards are controlled to a certain extent, however discharges levels aren’t set for solid waste, nitrogen and phosphorus. The impact of salmon production on wild salmonids from the release of sea lice is a concerns as is the reliance on wild wrasse populations to act as a cleaner fish to eat the lice.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 0

Welfare standards are included within the GlobalGap criteria. Widespread disease outbreaks however are known for this species.



Criterion Score: 2

Criteria for certification to the GlobalGap standard meets the requirements for regulation of production, overall they are effective however sea lice management needs to be improved.


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.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Anchovy, anchovies
Arctic char
Herring or sild
Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)
Salmon, Chinook, King Salmon
Salmon, Chum, Keta, Calico or Dog salmon
Salmon, Coho , Silver, White
Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback
Salmon, Sockeye , Red Salmon, Bluebacks, Redfish
Trout, Rainbow
Tuna, albacore
Tuna, bigeye
Tuna, skipjack
Tuna, yellowfin


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.


FAO: Atlantic salmon Feed Production. Available online at: 01/05/2014

GGAP V5.0 (2016) Global Gap Farm Assurance, All Farm Base- Aquaculture Module, Control Points and Compliance Criteria, English Version 5.0, Edition 5.0- 02 July 2016, Obligatory From 01 July 2016.

GlobalGap Compound Feed Manufacturing. CPCC Version 2.1. March 2014

GlobalGap Integrated Farm Assurance. Aquaculture Module. Version 4.0. June 2013. Control point 15.1

Seafood Watch Report. Atlantic Salmon, Scotland Net Pen Assessment . 2014

FAO Cultured Species Factsheets.

SAIC (2015) Wrasse project offers production boost to Scottish salmon industry. Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre. Media Release. 25 May 2015.

FAO National Aquaculture Legislation Overview. UK. Avaialble online at:

Scotlanda Aquaculture. Environmental Monitoring Surveys. Available online at: