Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)

Salmo salar

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Europe
Production method — Open net pen

GAA Bap certification (3*)

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: 2

The ingredients that make up feed for 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: -1 

The GAA BAP standards address many if the issues of environment concern. The use of pesticides is dictated by the production country and in those supplying the UK improvements are required. There is no specification on the use of wild caught wrasse as cleaner fish and no evidence that the mitigation methods for escapes are effective.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 0

Welfare standards are included in the criteria. Regional disease outbreaks are known in some production countries.



Criterion Score: 2

There is no requirement to operate in a strategic framework plan that incorporates aquaculture. All issues of environmental concern are included within the standard and these are mostly effective although improvements in pesticide use and the use of cleaner fish are required.


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
Sprat, whitebait
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

Seafood Watch Report. Atlantic Salmon, Scotland Net Pen Assessment . 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: Salmon Farm Standards Issue 2 Revision 3 October 2016. Available online at: