Soil Association set to tighten organic standards for salmon

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Fish farmers and the public are set to be consulted on changes to the standards that allow farmed salmon to be described as “organic”.

The Soil Association, which sets the bar for organic food production in the UK, is looking to update its standards to strengthen provisions for the welfare of Atlantic salmon and cleaner fish such as wrasse and lumpfish. Requirements for managing sea lice and the rules covering feed are also likely to be tightened up.

The organisation said: “The Soil Association was one of the first organisations to develop organic standards for aquaculture – the farming of a wide variety of aquatic animals and plants.

“Since first publication in 2002, many of those standards are now enshrined in UK and European law and some have even been adopted by the non-organic sector.

“As a relatively youthful farming sector, innovation within fish farming is taking place at a fast pace and the Soil Association is therefore reviewing important standards, with public consultation opening in a month in late November.”

Chris Atkinson, Head of Standards with the Soil Association, commented: “Organic farmers are pioneers in sustainable food production, and it is essential that our standards allow them to remain at the leading edge of best practice. As part of our policy to constantly keep all organic standards under review, we are proposing an update to our aquaculture standards to align them with the most recent research and updates to organic standards across Europe. We are seeking the views of anyone with an interest in the fish sector and sustainable food production to get involved with the consultation and to help us to ensure organic continues to drive forward standards of fish farming in the UK.”

The first stage of the review is focusing on the standards for organic Atlantic salmon, with consultation starting in late November. The next stage of the review, in 2024, will look at other species and will respond to expected developments in legislation around aquaculture from the Scottish Government.

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