Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

New report examines sustainability claims of farmed salmon eco-certifications

April 6, 2011

VANCOUVER – Today Living Oceans Society and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) released a new report – Better than the Rest? A Resource Guide to Farmed Salmon Certifications. Largely written for retailers, this guide assesses the five eco-certifications on the market, two certifications in draft and the organic labels in use and in development for farmed salmon. Unfortunately all five eco-certifications fail to fully meet the requirements of credible standards.

This new guide will help businesses and consumers discern which certifications reflect true improvements to environmental performance and which may be certifying products to weak standards, eco-certifying to an unrelated standard such as food-quality, or just making empty sustainability claims.

“Sustainable seafood is big business and a plethora of eco-labels and eco-certifications exist on the market today,” said Tiffany Hilman, Living Oceans Society. “This guide helps businesses avoid the greenwash and support the development of the truly responsible practices their customers are expecting.”

The eco-certifications were evaluated using two widely recognized guidelines for standard development and certification schemes – those of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling alliance (ISEAL) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Each standard was also assessed based on how each standard addresses salmon farming’s environmental impacts.

Only one aquaculture eco-certification – the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue, currently in draft – holds at least the promise of truly rigorous standards that could potentially certify products resulting from more responsible practices. However, the standard is still in draft form and subject to a 30-day public comment period this spring before the final version can be assessed.

The five eco-certifications currently on the market include esqu Eco-Label, GLOBALG.A.P., Cooke Aquaculture’s Seafood Trust Eco-Salmon, Irish Quality Eco-Salmon and Friend of the Sea. The guide also evaluates three emerging aquaculture production systems such as closed containment technologies currently being explored by the aquaculture industry.

Certification programs are playing an increasing role in helping consumers and businesses identify which products support improvements in environmental and/or social practices. Unfortunately, not all certifications have the same degree of credibility, offer valid assurances of sustainability, or require the same rigour for standards development and implementation.


Contact Information

Kelly Roebuck, Living Oceans Society, a member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, 
604-696-5044 kroebuck [at]   

Bronwen Barnett, 
Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, Communications, 
604-719-4713 bronwen [at]