With the ongoing community campaigns against salmon farming expansion in Scotland, here is some useful information for consumers on Scottish Salmon certification from the Best Fishes website, a project set up by Fidra, an environmental charity based in East Lothian. Their aim is to help consumers make more sustainable decisions regarding the salmon we eat, by providing us with information regarding certification labels and publishing which retailers sell certified salmon. See their website for more information about this. Below is a table showing the current certification schemes. With thanks to Sue Weaver for pointing the Voice in the direction of the work of Fidra.
Best Fishes seeks to engage with the current environmental concerns associated with Scottish salmon farming.
The main aim of the project is to highlight these issues with consumers and retailers. As part of this we are asking consumers to question where their salmon is from and how it has been produced. We are asking retailers to keep improving their sourcing and transparency, the industry to keep improving its standards through innovation and best practice, and the regulators to ensure standards are adequate and regulations are being enforced.
The project was established by Fidra, an environmental charity based in East Lothian, Scotland. We use scientific evidence and research best practice to establish a wider dialogue and determine how best to influence positive environmental change at national and international levels.
Many of the portions of Scottish salmon for sale in UK retailers are labelled with the RSPCA logo, or a logo declaring the product is ‘responsibly’ or ‘sustainably’ farmed, but what do these actually mean?
The labels assert that the salmon has been produced to certain standards. The reliability of these labels depends upon whether assessment is undertaken regularly by an external independent third party. Several sets of standards, or ‘certification’ schemes, have been developed by salmon farming companies and by other organisations.
The certification schemes are shown in the table below, with a brief description of the main criteria of each. Scottish legislation and the Code of Good Practice are included for comparison. Several retailers have their own internal standards in addition to or instead of external third party schemes. We have applied a simple weighting and score* to each scheme across 11 different criteria, with a total of 33 points available. Those deemed to have the strictest requirements in any single criteria have also been highlighted. Several of the schemes are under review, and the table is subject to change. Direct comparison of the schemes is difficult due to the different methods of assessment used and the table should be used for guidance only.
Whilst some certification schemes assert a higher standard, an ideal solution has not yet been reached and a score of 33 does not indicate a perfect scheme.
Summary of Certification scheme criteria: