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Global Salmon Initiative Marks 5-Year Anniversary

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Betting on collaboration and transparency as drivers for significant improvements in sustainability – did the risk pay off?

LONDON, UK – AUGUST 15, 2018, 10:00 CET: Five years ago today, a group of salmon farming CEOs decided to take a risk on a new approach to shaping a sustainable future for the industry – collaboration. The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) was the vision of those CEOs, who decided that the usual models of change weren’t working effectively, and something different was needed in order to see significant improvements in sustainability. Betting instead on a model of pre-competitive collaboration and increased transparency, the GSI members set ambitious targets of achieving the highest environmental and social standards (as set by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council [ASC]), sharing expertise and knowledge to promote accelerated change at speed and at scale, and – likely the biggest risk of all – sharing their progress via a publicly available and transparent reporting platform.

As GSI Co-Chair and Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog explains: “When we started GSI we weren’t sure if it would work. Different companies, different regions, coming together to focus on environmental improvements based on sharing best practices could be a win-win for the industry and the environment. We quickly realized that we all had common challenges, and that by bringing together the best expertise in the industry and working collectively with those CEOs willing to take a risk and focus on the long-term future of the industry, we could actually start to see improvements industry-wide.”

The GSI model of pre-competitive collaboration and collective thinking has been one of the group’s major successes, and continues to be the backbone of the group’s approach to achieving significant improvements in sustainability.

“GSI was a game-changer when it launched, but we never anticipated the level of impact it would have, not only on salmon farming, but on the food sector as a whole,” said Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Food & Markets, World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “GSI’s approach of identifying challenges and creating a frank and practical conversation on how to find solutions as well as a platform for exchanging information is what is really changing the game. In no other sector have we seen change at the speed and scale as we have done through the GSI, and it’s the GSI members’ visionary outlook that is making that possible.”

“Creating the GSI was an important move at the time,” added Alf-Helge Aarskog. “We were stepping out and making commitments I’m not sure anyone expected us to achieve, but five years on we can proudly say the risk paid off, and the fact we are still going proves that the continuous work GSI is doing is important for the members.”

Over the past 5 years, the GSI has been shaping the future of salmon aquaculture through:

  • Collaboration: the first truly industry-wide global group involving salmon farmers, feed companies, and pharmaceutical companies
  • Accountability: demonstrating measurable progress in environmental, social and economic sustainability via the ASC Salmon Standard
    • 5 years ago no farm had achieved ASC certification; today GSI has over 40% of production ASC-certified and continues to work towards 100%
  • Transparency: launching the first industry-wide, independently audited, annual transparent Sustainability Report, which shares data on 14 indicators
  • Innovation: through sharing of knowledge and expertise, GSI has been able to identify and integrate new innovations and improved approaches to its members’ salmon farming operations
    • Including both the launch of the GSI feed tender in 2016, which triggered significant development of non-marine omega-3 sources, and the continued testing of new non-medicinal approaches to disease management

“Looking back over the past 5 years, there have been some difficult times, and some difficult discussions…” said GSI Co-Chair and Blumar CEO Gerardo Balbontin, “…but as we mark this 5-year milestone we can look back and say that through the GSI we have proved that collaboration is the way to achieving a sustainable and prosperous future for the salmon farming sector. However, we are not taking our foot off the gas – there is still a lot to be done and the GSI continues to stand strong because all of its members remain as committed to our shared vision as we did back in 2013.”

To learn more about the GSI’s Pathways to the Future please click here.


The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) is a leadership initiative established in 2013 by global farmed salmon producers focused on making significant progress on industry sustainability. Today, the GSI comprises 15 companies – representing approximately 50% of the global salmon production industry – that are fully committed to realizing a shared goal of providing a highly sustainable source of healthy food to feed a growing global population, whilst minimizing our environmental footprint, and continuing to improve our social contribution.

GSI member companies are Australis Seafoods S.A.; Bakkafrost; Blumar; Cermaq; Compañía Pesquera Camanchaca; Empresas AquaChile; Grieg Seafood ASA; Huon Aquaculture; Los Fiordos; Marine Harvest; Multiexport Foods S.A.; New Zealand King Salmon; Nova Sea AS; Tassal; and Ventisqueros. GSI companies have a presence in Australia, Canada, Chile, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the UK, and make significant contributions to the economies of these respective countries.

The GSI also has a number of Associate Members in both the pharmaceutical and feed industries, including Benchmark Holdings plc; BioMar; Cargill; Elanco; Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) Animal Health; PHARMAQ; Salmofood; and Skretting.

For further information on the GSI, please visit or contact us at:


To reach GSI’s vision of providing healthy protein at less environmental cost – change is needed. Aquaculture is one possible solution to our future food challenges, being one of the most eco-efficient ways of producing protein, and salmon farming is leading the way in aquaculture innovation. Members of the GSI have outlined their pathways to a sustainable future for aquaculture. For more information, please visit our blog at

Media contacts:

Sophie Ryan
+1 604 506 8414

Sophie Bullock
+ 44 (0)7753 138 182