Fifteen farmed salmon producers, representing 70% of the global industry, have joined forces have pledged to make their businesses more sustainable by tackling issues including biosecurity and sourcing.

The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) aims to make “significant strides” in providing sustainably-sourced farmed salmon by reducing the environmental footprint of production, as well as maintaining growth and improving what it called its “social contribution”. It will focus on biosecurity, feed sourcing and meeting industry standards.

Demand for salmon is growing but there are concerns among environmentalists about the impact of salmon farms.

José Ramón Gutíerrez, co-chair of GSI and executive director of Multiexport Foods SA, said: “Each of our focus areas are critical and integral to the success of our industry, and with commitment across regions to work together for the first time, we have the opportunity for real and beneficial change.”

GSI member companies include Multiexport Foods, Cermaq, Lerøy Seafood Group, Marine Harvest and The Scottish Salmon Company.

The initiative is adopting the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) framework for salmon aquaculture as its primary reference point for the work it is doing and the progress it is making.

“As an industry, we recognise that while we have made significant progress, there is still a lot to be done in terms of sustainability. As a relatively young industry, we hope that through industry collaboration, research and sharing of knowledge, we can make the necessary changes to do better, and keep getting better,” noted GSI co-chair and Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog.

GSI has also formed an alliance with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to ensure it is making significant change and is not “merely satisfying the status quo”.

“This is a game-changer. The salmon sector working together and embracing sustainability is going to radically change aquaculture – and affect the food industry in a big way,” said Dr Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation for World Wildlife Fund (WWF).