How aquaculture can become more sustainable

Kari Torp Bellona's Senior Advisor for Aquaculture.
Kari Torp Bellona's Senior Advisor for Aquaculture.

Publish date: June 28, 2024

The aquaculture industry should play a central role in the future food system. And to achieve that, significant challenges must be overcome," says Kari Torp, senior advisor for aquaculture at Bellona.

During the AquaNext aquaculture conference in Stavanger earlier this month, Bellona presented its updated position paper on Sustainable Aquaculture.

“One of our biggest challenges is how to meet an increasing demand for food in the future, while preventing further destruction of nature, making significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and obtaining sufficient sustainable biomass in the transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy. The aquaculture industry should play a central role in this development,” says Torp.

«The aquaculture industry should play a central role in the development of future food systems.»

Kari Torp

Senior adviser, aquaculture

In our Sustainable Aquaculture position paper, Bellona highlights significant challenges that must be overcome for the industry to become more sustainable.

Salmon by Air

“Air freight is the largest single contributor to the total climate footprint of salmon. Even though most of the salmon is exported to the European market by truck, air freight increases the total climate footprint. For salmon flown to Asia or the USA, air transport accounts for between 68 – 82 percent of the total climate footprint. The industry must take major steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions related to the transport of salmon to markets. Transporting salmon by air must be phased out,” says Torp.

Shelf Life, Feed, and Mortality

Bellona also believes that the industry should develop products with a longer shelf life.

“The industry should adopt new technology that can keep products fresh longer. At the same time, efforts should be made to establish frozen salmon as a fully viable alternative to fresh,” says Torp.

For salmon that is not flown to market, feed accounts for an average of 75 percent of total emissions, and most of the feed ingredients are imported. To achieve lower greenhouse gas emissions for farmed salmon, it is crucial to address the feed. Through the collaboration platform Råvareløftet, Bellona, together with a number of actors in the feed industry, has identified 15 new potential raw materials for salmon.

High mortality in the sea phase of production has been a persistent problem. Bellona believes that a national goal for mortality in sea-phase salmon production should be set at under five percent.