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Dear Customer:

I am reaching out to update you on the latest issues in salmon farming sustainability and developments in third-party certification, topics that have been highlighted in the recent past.  The most recent development was an announcement in the past week by the Monterey Bay Aquarium that it will immediately classify any farm that holds ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) certification as a “yellow” rated producer. Many are wondering what this means and what the details are surrounding this and of course wanting to understand what our operation’s plan is around this. 

First, it is important to state that our vision at Skuna Bay is to produce the world’s consistently best in class (and quality) salmon and in doing this, help to reduce pressure on wild fish populations. In doing this we must be responsible in our rearing habits. All of these goals are mutually reliant upon one another – in order to be the best we have to also have very high standards for responsible rearing habits.

Skuna Bay Salmon has been leading change since it was started in 2011. Since then we have secured third party certification for all of our farms and are now “4 Star” Best Aquaculture Practices Certified for our entire production chain (seawater, hatchery, feed, processing). We have introduced a completely recyclable box, implemented carbon offsets for all carbon generated by shipping to our customers and reduced use of feeder fish in our salmon’s food. We never use antibiotics preventatively and have a strong vaccination program to ensure all our salmon go into the ocean healthy. We keep our pen densities low (99% water, 1% fish) and this helps ensure our salmon stay healthy. We know that our impact is not large (weekly we ship only about 1,000 lbs of salmon to each market we serve) but we think that by telling people about the things we do differently that we can have a positive impact on the rest of the salmon operators out there.

I note these things because I think it is important for you to see and understand the priority our farmers place upon acting responsibly but also that we have taken many proactive and tangible steps to back this up.

Now back to certification and ASC. As mentioned above, in the early days of certification we chose the Best Aquaculture Practices standard (BAP) because we felt it was the most rigorous and well developed certification and we still consider it an excellent standard. We focused on BAP also because it was most likely to be recognized as a valid and credible system by the GSSI (Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative) while the MBA/Seafood Watch was less clear. Of course, during this time we have also been keeping an eye on the developing ASC standard and can report great progress towards this. The ASC salmon standard has been changing rapidly over the past few years so it has been difficult to take too much action until it has gotten to a firm footing. Yet the good news is that many of the requirements needed to meet BAP certification also meet the ASC standard and this means our farms are well on their way to ASC. 

Let me now outline our plans around ASC certification and our progress to date:

  1. Our leader, Per Grieg who also has operations in Norway and Scotland is the Co-Chair of the Global Salmon Initiative and under that initiative we have committed to having every farm globally certified as ASC by the end of 2020.

    This is a good start but it doesn’t mean our plans are three years out and we are well on our way on this in British Columbia at our farms. Therefore:

  2. We have employed an individual whose only job is to manage certification and his focus will be on accomplishing ASC in addition to our BAP certification;

  3. A “gap analysis” has been conducted to determine if and where there may be gaps in our farms’ ability to meet the ASC standard;

  4. We have committed to not using antibiotics considered by the WHO (World Health Organization) as critical to human health;

  5. We have some farms (and possibly all of them) that certainly would meet the standard and we are identifying which to select to begin an official audit;

  6. We are awaiting the results of the gap analysis and from there will take action (if it is deemed that there are any gaps) to close these in order to meet the standard.

  7. We expect our farms to be ASC certified with significant progress towards this by 2018.
Changing focus from one certification method (BAP) towards another method (ASC) isn’t something that happens overnight. Even though there are many similarities, there are also some different protocols and different measurements in some areas and so re-adjusting our focus towards ASC will take a transition period.

But we can see that this is what the market wants and we are determined to meet it in order to continue to demonstrate that not only do our Craftsman Farmers rear the best salmon available but also have the highest commitment to the ocean environment and responsible rearing habits possible.

We hope this helps to address any questions you may have but I am available for any follow ups or clarification as needed and in the meantime we will continue to keep you updated as to our progress towards ASC certification.


Dave Mergle, Skuna Bay Salmon