Global farmed salmon producers significantly reduced antibiotic use over seven years, GSI report finds

Seven years of data from more than 50 percent of the world’s farmed salmon sector is featured in the latest annual sustainability report from the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI).

Released on 11 May, the report’s data covers 15 key indicators – 10 environmental and five social – impacting salmon aquaculture operations worldwide. The new issuance, which highlights data through 2019, reveals some promising sector trends, GSI said, including a 50 percent reduction in the use of antibiotics over the past seven years, as well as a more holistic, collective approach to preventing and managing sea lice.

The report attributes the reduction in antibiotic use to improvements in stewardship, disease control, and fish welfare by GSI members.

“Minimizing the use of antibiotics is one of the key priorities of the GSI Biosecurity Taskforce, and this 50 [percent] reduction in overall use of antibiotics is a true testament to the commitment of the GSI members in improving antibiotic stewardship, disease control, and best-practice sharing,” explained Catarina Martins, the chief sustainability officer and chief technical officer for Mowi, a GSI member company. “Although situations vary regionally, we know there is benefit for everyone in coordinating efforts to find alternative methods to maintain fish health and welfare, and we will continue to focus on improving the environmental performance of the global industry.”

Meanwhile, a more holistic approach to sea lice prevention and management has resulted in a 50 percent decrease in medicinal use and a 130 percent increase in nonmedicinal approaches since 2013, GSI’s report found. A continued embrace of certification could be partially to thank for such promising figures – over 710,000 metric tons of farmed salmon produced by GSI members was sold as Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified in 2019, translating to almost 65 percent of total members’ production, the report noted.  

In several areas, progress is evident, according to Blumar CEO and GSI Co-Chair Gerardo Balbontín.

“Each year we deliver the GSI Sustainability Report, it is always interesting to see what industry trends will be highlighted. But the trend we are most pleased to see is progress – which is not always a given. It is rewarding and motivating to see that the GSI model is supporting accelerated progress in sustainability performance across the industry, and that we are not only achieving rigorous sustainability standards, but also are making good headway towards longer-term goals and catalyzing innovations that are transforming the industry,” Balbontín said.

A new “Nutrient Profile” section has been included in the 2019 GSI Sustainability Report focusing on the information related to salmon’s nutritional value, such as macro- and micronutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and other health components. The addition coincides with the trend of farmed salmon producers providing “a nutrient-dense wholefood” that supports healthy diets, GSI explained.  

“We felt it was important we provide the full picture on farm-raised salmon and salmon farming in this report from both and environmental and nutritional perspective to deliver a complete and transparent overview for stakeholders,” GSI CEO Sophie Ryan said. “It is now our role, in GSI, to continue to drive the changes in sustainability performance needed to support salmon farming’s ongoing contributions to healthy, sustainable diets and food systems.”

Established in 2013, GSI is comprised of 14 global farmed salmon producers representing approximately 50 percent of the global salmon production industry. GSI member companies are Australis Seafoods S.A.; Bakkafrost; Blumar; Cermaq; Salmones Camanchaca SA; Empresas AquaChile; Grieg Seafood ASA; Mowi; Multiexport Foods S.A.; New Zealand King Salmon; Nova Sea AS; Salmones Austral; Tassal; and Ventisqueros. These member companies have a presence in Australia, Canada, Chile, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

GSI also has a number of pharmaceutical and feed industry associate members such as Benchmark Holdings plc; BioMar; Cargill; Elanco; Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) Animal Health; PHARMAQ; Salmofood; and Skretting.


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