GSI publishes advanced vision for the future; Mowi departs down its own independent path

Published on
July 23, 2020

The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) has released the details of its forward-looking "vision" document, vowing to strengthen its climate commitments and  incorporate of circular economy approaches.

GSI has plans to reach “beyond initial [Aquaculture Stewardship Council] certification ambitions” with its new vision for the future, which was announced earlier this month. The organization is also rolling out a series of projects aimed at addressing global challenges in climate, food, and nutrition security “to further cement the farmed salmon industry as the global leader in producing sustainable and nutritious protein,” it said in a press release.

The project roster includes establishing a reporting framework of industry and supply chain climate impact alongside the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a first-of-its-kind endeavor for the food sector designed to enhance climate mitigation strategies across production and the supply chain, according to Bakkafrost CEO Regin Jacobsen, who serves as GSI’s new co-chair.

“Earlier this year, WWF described GSI as the ‘leading example of industry transformation’ and it is our job to build on that reputation through continuous improvement,” Jacobsen said. “The progress made to date under the GSI leadership is unprecedented, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We are all facing the huge challenges which continue to emerge on climate, biodiversity and food security. But by continuing to work together to address these challenges and share innovation, salmon farming can be part of the solution in providing healthy and sustainable food.”

“GSI has always been a leading example of change,” WWF Senior Vice President of Markets Jason Clay added. “No other group works at GSI’s industry-wide level or produces the same kinds of impact at a global scale. Their initial focus on ASC certification and biosecurity was ambitious and it is great to see the progress they made. While we don’t want this work to stop, we strongly support the GSI’s decision to start working on new initiatives. Climate impacts and carbon reporting are critical elements of food production. We know aquaculture will play a significant role in future food systems. Only GSI has a track record of working together to solve industry-wide problems. It is great to see them lead in this space. We need to document what GSI does and how they do it so others can follow.”

An extensive review of global challenges led to GSI identifying climate change, circular economy approaches, and reliance on plastics as key areas where members could collectively have the biggest impact.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that 21 to 37 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the food system, a footprint that will be compounded by the need to produce 60 percent more food to meet changing demographics, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO),” GSI noted in a press release. “Global food systems need to change and focus on climate-friendly foods that meet vital nutritional needs. Salmon farming already has one of the lowest carbon footprints of all animal protein-producing sectors; however, as the sector grows to meet increasing demand, further action is necessary to reduce impact. Through developing an industry-wide reporting platform, GSI members will be able to transparently measure their climate impact and use the results to develop effective climate mitigation strategies.”

With plastics, pollutants, and packaging all making its way into the world’s oceans at alarming levels, GSI believes it’s imperative that the aquaculture industry embrace measures and approaches that support responsible longevity.

“As ocean farmers, a healthy ocean is critical to GSI members’ work, the livelihoods of our colleagues and the communities in which we operate,” the organization stated. “With this, GSI members acknowledge their responsibility and ability to introduce circularity approaches, reduce reliance on plastic across the supply chain, and support greater awareness and removal of plastics from the ocean. The GSI will review and accelerate progress on circular economy approaches, reducing the use of plastics and supporting awareness initiatives to reduce plastics in the ocean.”

Also on the docket for GSI for the future is “strengthening social impact initiatives through transparently reporting on expanded social metrics in the annual sustainability report,” it said.

Established in 2013, GSI is comprised of 14 global farmed salmon producers representing approximately 50 percent of the global salmon production industry. It recently reported that 60 percent of its member production is now Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified, with the collective aspiration of reaching 100 percent certification.

For members of the organization, GSI embodies the commitment to “sustainability performance and being at the forefront of driving the farmed salmon industry on the right path for the future,” Blumar CEO Gerardo Balbontin, who also serves as a GSI co-chair, said.

“To do so we must evolve. And as we reviewed our progress to date, we felt that now was the time to use the momentum we have built and set new and more ambitious targets,” Balbontin added.

Twenty-one companies have reaffirmed their commitment to the GSI vision, the organization said. However, as it announced its new vision, GSI confirmed that member Mowi “has decided that the time is right for them to take their own independent path.”

“Mowi has contributed a great deal to GSI, and we are confident that they will continue on the course that GSI set for the industry towards greater sustainability and transparency,” Balbontin said. “At the same time, it is important that the GSI moves forward with ever more ambitious goals and that is what we are announcing today. We have identified the areas where we see the greatest need for industry action, and where we believe our model of working will drive the greatest progress.”

GSI member companies are Australis Seafoods S.A.; Bakkafrost; Blumar; Cermaq; Salmones Camanchaca SA; Empresas AquaChile; Grieg Seafood ASA; Multiexport Foods S.A.; New Zealand King Salmon; Nova Sea AS; Salmones Austral; Tassal; and Ventisqueros. GSI also has a number of supply chain associate members in both the pharmaceutical and feed industries, including Benchmark Holdings plc; BioMar; Cargill; Elanco; Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) Animal Health; PHARMAQ; Salmofood; and Skretting.

Photo courtesy of the Global Salmon Inititative 

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