Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)

Salmo salar

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

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

Organic Certification Standards for farmed Atlantic salmon set comprehensive standards for the cultivation of salmon which includes third party auditing, inspection and enforcement procedures, standards include hatchery production and feed production. These standards led to better overall environmental performance including: reduced stocking densities leading to less benthic impacts and disease reduction; limited use of medicines and chemicals in production; feed must be produced from off-cuts and by-products of human consumption fisheries and organic certified plant raw materials (no GMO) and stringent regulations and third party on site auditing.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 4

The ingredients that make up organic feed are required to be traceable and responsibly sourced. Marine by-products provide the fishmeal and fish oil content and terrestrial ingredients have to be organic.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: -2 

Freshwater supplies and habitats can be impacted but are mitigated for within the standard requirements. Chemical usage and effluent are monitored and limited and biosecurity measures minimise disease outbreaks and escapes. Predator control is encouraged to be the use of non-lethal deterrents, although some countries allow lethal control.


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

Organic certification addresses many of the issues of environmental concern and the certification ensures compliance. However the organic farms need to be incorporated into wider strategic marine planning as do non-organic farms.


Production method

Open net pen, Organic certification

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.


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

Soil Association organic standards aquaculture. Revision 17.2 June 2014. Available online at:

Marine Scotland Science (2013) Scottish Fish Farm Production Survey. Scottish Government.Available online at:

FAO 2004-2018. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Salmo salar. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Text by Jones, M. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 1 January 2004. [Cited 11 September 2018].

MBA Seafood Watch assessment. Farmed Atlantic salmon in Scotland 2014. Available online at:

Scotlands Aquaculture. Escapes. Available online at:,

Scottish Government. Marien Planning. Available online at:

Aquaculture and Freshwater Fisheries Act (2012) , WEWS Act 2003. EIA (Scotland) Regulation 1999, Alien and Locally Absent Species in Aquaculture (2007) Europe."Health requirements & disease control:Aquatic Animal Health (Scotland) Regulations 2009, which implement Directive 2006/88/EC: Available online at:"

Scotlands Aquaculture. Environmental Monitoring Surveys. Available online at: