Salmon Dialogues release draft standards

Draft standards to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the salmon aquaculture industry were released today for the first of two public comment periods.

The standards were created by the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogues, a 500-person roundtable that includes farmed salmon industry leaders, scientists and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

"One of our priorities has been getting as many people as possible engaged in the process so that we can tap into their expertise and on-the-ground experiences," said Katherine Bostick of World Wildlife Fund, which coordinates the Dialogues. "This is reflected in the draft standards document, which includes innovative standards that will help change the way salmon is farmed worldwide."

The process seeks to minimize or eliminate key negative impacts associated with salmon aquaculture, such as sea lice, escapement and potential breeding with wild fish and conflicts within communities regarding shared coastal resources. Salmon aquaculture is responsible for producing two-thirds of the salmon consumed worldwide.

The standards, which are expected to be finalized in approximately six months, will be the first global standards for salmon aquaculture created through an open, transparent process that is aligned with the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance's renowned guidelines for creating standards.

Numerous meetings have been held in key salmon producing regions like Norway, Chile, Scotland and British Columbia since the process began in 2004.

"We've come a long way and are excited about the progress that has been made in creating the standards," added Petter Arnesen of Marine Harvest, a member of the nine-person Steering Committee.

The first comment period will end on 3 October. The second comment period will begin approximately two months later.

Six sets of draft standards (pangasius, freshwater trout, abalone, shrimp, bivalves and salmon) are in the process of being reviewed or finalized and one set of standards (tilapia) is finalized.

The standards will be amended periodically to reflect changes in science and technology, as well as to encourage innovation and continuous improvement. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council, an organization expected to be fully operational in 2011, will coordinate any revisions.

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