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Pathways to seafood sustainability debated in US

The Global Salmon Initiative (GSI), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation, and Rabobank joined up for the first time in the US last week to demonstrate how the global farmed-salmon industry is leading the way in changing aquaculture-business practices to ensure a sustainable future for the industry.

The meeting took place during the "Seafood Expo North America" in Boston.

The US is the largest consumer by country of farmed salmon worldwide, consuming more than 282,000 tonnes last year. In fact, demand for farmed salmon has increased by over 14 per cent in the last five years in the US alone, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Global demand for salmon has increased even more quickly, doubling in the last decade, and is set to double again by 2020.

The "Pathways to Sustainability" seminar at the Boston expo intended to set an example of how cooperation among seafood industry members can lead to sustainable development and can be replicated across other industries.

Many business leaders believe a significant change in current business practices is the only way for the industry to meet its market potential and future global consumer demand for salmon.

GSI executives meeting in Boston with global sustainability leaders announced their commitment to put sustainability before competition, in order to pursue a unique model of environmental cooperation as a driver for their industry's success.

"It is rare to see CEOs - who are usually competing fiercely for market share - joining together to address challenges around sustainability," said Jason Clay, WWF senior vice president of market transformation. "This type of collective action in the farmed salmon sector is what's needed across all food commodities if we ever hope to feed 9 billion people while preserving biodiversity."

During the seminar on March 18, leaders from the GSI and the expert panel reviewed the initial results of the GSI cooperation model, and discussed how collaboration can translate into industry improvements. In turn, providing a sustainable solution, both economically and environmentally, to the world's growing demand for high-protein foods.

At the forefront of change in the aquaculture industry, the GSI was formed to help change current business practices and has focused on a model of environmental cooperation as a driver for industry success.

"Companies active in the GSI recognise that sustainability is commercially sensible, and by making a public commitment to sustainable practices, they are helping to embed sustainability as a strategic driver of long-term success," said Jeroen Leffelaar, Rabobank's Global Animal Protein co-head.

"As individual companies, we can work as hard as we want at improving our operations to support sustainable growth, but due to the nature of our business we are inherently affected by the actions of neighbours and fellow companies," said Jon Hindar, co-chair of the GSI and CEO of Cermaq.

"By focusing on cooperation and collaboration, we are seeing that progress can be made on a much wider scale, and at a much quicker rate," he added.

The GSI is an initiative established last year by global farmed-salmon producers focused on making significant progress on industry sustainability.


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