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Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)

Salmo salar

Method of production - Farmed
Production country - Europe
Production method - Open net pens, GlobalGAP certification
Accreditation - GlobalGap
Fish type - Oily fish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is not the most sustainable choice of fish to eat. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find more sustainable fish to eat.

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 of transmission of sea lice, and escapes from farms.Salmon are carnivorous fish and rely on wild capture fisheries to produce their feed. At present more fish is required to manufacture this feed than is produced by farming them. MCS would therefore like to see a greater range of feed ingredients included in the diet of farmed salmon to reduce reliance on wild captured fish and so make farming of salmon a net producer of fish protein.


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.

Stock information

Stock area

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Stock information


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Production method

Open net pens, GlobalGAP 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. Water flows through the cages which are made of strong netting that also allows waste to fall through to the sea bed below.

Read the MCS Aquaculture policy position paper

FAO: Atlantic salmon Feed Production. 01/05/2014

GlobalGap Integrated Farm Assurance. Aquaculture Module. Version 4.0. June 2013. Control point AB 8.2.3.

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.

GlobalGap Aquaculture Module. Version 4.0 June 2013. AB10.0 Environment and Biodiversity management ; AB5.4 Treatment records

FAO National Aquaculture Legislation Factsheets

Marine Scotland.

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