THE World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recognised the positive impact on sustainability made by the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), a group which represents 50 per cent of the world’s farmed salmon production.
In an article, published on its website, the WWF acknowledges how the salmon producers’ model of pre-competitive collaboration has helped transform the industry towards a more sustainable future.
The GSI is praised for offering ‘a faster path to innovation and progress in addressing environmental, sustainability and reputational challenges’.
Disease and sea lice management are among the areas in which information sharing among the producers has been most beneficial, said the WWF.
And the salmon farmers are also hailed as an example to other industries wanting to accelerate their sustainability goals.
‘Aquaculture, a relatively young industry in terms of global commercial growth, has received a great deal of scrutiny regarding its negative environmental impacts, and salmon in particular has been in the limelight,’ wrote the WWF in its article.
‘With mounting negative press, pressure from buyers, and limitations to social licence to expand operations (or even just to operate in some cases), salmon farming companies looked for alternative ways to address these challenges.’
A number of industry CEOs decided to take proactive action and create the GSI, committing to voluntarily reporting on ‘the key indicators of sustainability performance’ – for example, metrics on fish escapes, antibiotic use, and marine ingredients in feed.
‘While sustainability reporting is becoming mainstream and many companies are now voluntarily reporting on a variety of sustainability metrics, it is not common for an industry to agree upon which metrics to use and how to measure them, and to then provide data on a public platform side-by-side with the competition,’ the WWF continued.
The conservation NGO went as far as saying that the work of the GSI members has resulted in a ‘significant perceived improvement in reputation’ for the industry and even helped secure the future of the businesses involved.
The World Wildlife Fund highlighted several GSI successes and initiatives, including:
- The uniqueness of the Sustainability Report in allowing members to demonstrate a commitment to transparency and continuous improvement in managing common resources in an environmentally responsible way, enabling the mitigation of reputational risk, as well as helping to secure the future of their businesses;
- The bold pledge to certify all farms with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification by 2020, signalling the level of commitment to improving environmental stewardship and advancing the sustainability agenda;
- The value that sharing experiences and insights between the members has had on accelerating progress towards the identification and implementation of scalable solutions to sea lice and disease management ; and
- The demonstrable impact the GSI have made on feed efficiency, both in terms of feed conversion ratios, as well as the amount of fishmeal and fish oil required.
The GSI was established in 2013, initially representing nearly 70 per cent of global production and 17 salmon aquaculture companies. Today there are 14 members representing 50 per cent of global salmon farming production.
Each company has committed both financial resources and time to advance the GSI’s goals, which include driving Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification. Around 40 per cent of the industry is currently ASC certified, including 60 per cent of GSI member production.
Member companies in the GSI span the world and include AquaChile, Bakkafrost, Mowi, Grieg, Cermaq, Tassal and New Zealand King Salmon.
‘At a time when natural resources are being depleted far more quickly than they can regenerate, and pressure on the food system mounts, the lessons learned from the GSI can be applied to other industries to enhance bottom lines and accelerate progress towards sustainability across industries and the planet,’ said the WWF.
‘The GSI is the leading example of industry leadership in transforming an entire sector towards a more sustainable future.’
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