Is salmon aquaculture legislation keeping up with the industry’s expansion? A global perspective

Is salmon aquaculture legislation keeping up with the industry’s expansion? Read out new report to learn more

Salmon aquaculture has been an established global industry for over 50 years. The industry has continued to expand to meet demand, however,  legislation and regulation to protect the environment has often been implemented retrospectively. Our latest review explores current environmental legislation across the largest Atlantic salmon aquaculture nations in the world, including Norway, Chile, Scotland, Faroe Islands, Canada, Australia and Iceland. 

Salmon aquaculture has multiple associated environmental impacts. These range from diseases which can impact wild fish populations, the discharge of chemicals used in treatments, waste release in the form of fish faeces and excess feed into the surrounding water, and escapes of domesticated farmed species. Effective legislation is essential to address and mitigate these impacts to the environment surrounding farms and beyond. 



An overview of current legislation

Currently there is no global legislative requirement to monitor the environmental impacts of salmon aquaculture. This has led to a range in stringency and scope of the environmental monitoring in place across countries, which also makes comparing the effectiveness of regulation difficult between nations. Further to this many nations are in the process of reviewing their aquaculture legislation, having acknowledged that improvements need to be made to reflect the growth of the industry. 

Nonetheless there are clear instances where regulation has made a significant effort to ensure that the industry expands whilst limiting the impact it causes to the environment. For example, nearly all aquaculture nations have had to tackle issues associated with sea lice. Many of these nations have identified that sea lice can have an impact on farmed fish welfare but also wild salmon and have introduced limits to prevent this. Furthermore, following increasing awareness on the wider impacts of acoustic deterrent devices, specifically  on non-target species, nations have taken steps to ban or limit their use.  

What actions need to take place to address the gaps in legislation?

Overall, our review of  legislation demonstrates that no single nation has sufficiently addressed all environmental impacts of salmon aquaculture.  Four key actions that need to be  implemented to ensure the long-term protection of the environment are:

  1. Farms which repeatedly fail to meet environmental standards must cease operation. Comprehensive long-term environmental monitoring must be a pre-request for all new farm applications
  2. The introduction of a legal requirement for real time salmon aquaculture data to be publicly accessible to farm level, through an online dashboard or information portal. 
  3. Any decision-making process to approve a new farm must robustly assess the cumulative environmental impacts that each application may have.
  4. Regular monitoring, reporting and robust enforcement of regulations is essential. 

You can read our full review here