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Salmon farming, Tasmania © Bluebottle Films / WWF-Aus

Salmon farming, Tasmania © Bluebottle Films / WWF-Aus

Farmed seafood

Around the world, our taste for fish is tipping the boat. More than 31% of the world's fisheries are estimated to be overfished. Worse still, global consumption is projected to increase by 31 million tonnes over the next decade, which is about 33% more than the current wild catch.

What this means is that wild fish populations are not going to be able to meet future demand. Farmed fish, or aquaculture, will have to make a greater contribution to protein production. But not just any aquaculture.

Without safeguards, aquaculture comes with its own significant environmental risks. Poorly sited operations can result in the clearing of valuable and highly productive habitats such as mangroves and seagrass beds. Irresponsible operations can also result in extensive nutrient pollution, the release of harmful chemicals, the introduction of non-native species and the spread of disease into native fish populations. Another major challenge is that aquaculture food is made from wild fish.

What we're doing

Salmon is a priority commodity for WWF because of the risk that sea cage salmon farming poses to the places and species we seek to protect. We are also engaging with governments to help address environmental concerns when it comes to developing policies around aquaculture.

Why it matters 

Globally, seafood is the primary source of protein for about 950 million people. This is putting extreme pressure on wild fish stocks, and driving new demand for farmed seafood.

In 2014, farmed seafood for human consumption exceeded wild caught seafood for the first time. As the world's population continues to grow, farmed seafood will become an increasingly important source of protein.

Farming seafood responsibly can have a substantial, positive effect on our environment when compared to many of the alternatives. ASC offers consumers another sustainable food choice. Aquaculture will be vital to addressing global food security issues and alleviating poverty.


Dover farm at Tassal\



  • Chemicals

    The irresponsible use of chemicals such as antibiotics, antifoulants and pesticides on fish farms can have unintended impacts on marine and human health. Responsible aquaculture farms only use approved chemicals in accordance with prescribed dosages and applications, and store chemicals in safe places.

    Habitat destruction
    The ideal location for most aquaculture facilities is along highly productive coastal regions, where mangrove and seagrass habitats are naturally found. WWF advocates environmentally sound coastal planning that prevents the destruction of such important habitats in the approval and construction of aquaculture operations.

    Nutrient pollution
    The concentration of fish or other farmed species can cause increased nutrient production through faeces and aquaculture food, and threaten surrounding biodiversity. WWF works with farms and governments to ensure that animal densities do not exceed levels where the nutrients can be treated on-farm or assimilated by the local environment. Good design and location (where coastal flushing and tidal movements can aid nutrient dispersal) are crucial.

    Animals kept under higher than natural densities can be more susceptible to disease outbreaks, which can be transferred from one site to another. Responsible aquaculture operators manage their stock to ensure that optimum health is maintained and monitored, and that immediate steps are taken in the event of disease to prevent it spreading to the natural environment.

    Aquaculture food
    Fish meal and fish oils, usually derived from wild fish, are key ingredients of aquaculture food and we need to reduce the amount of wild fish it takes to produce farmed fish (the ‘fish in – fish out’ ratio, or FIFO). It typically takes about 4.9 tonnes of wild fish to produce one tonne of salmon. Under our partnership with Tassal, their FIFO is down to just less than two tonnes of wild fish to produce one tonne of salmon. The CSIRO has also produced the world’s first prawn aquaculture diet that does not include wild fish while also achieving increased growth rates.

    What you can do to help

    MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) logoAsk your local fish shop or retailer for Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified seafood. Tell them it’s the best standard globally for sustainable seafood and that you want to buy sustainable products.



    ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) logoLook for the MSC and ASC logos and make these your preferred options for seafood products. Host a dinner party and use only sustainable seafood products. Your friends will love you for it! Check out the MSC recipe page for inspiration!



    WWF logoWhen you see the WWF logo on a product it will only appear together with a certification mark 
    from the MSC (wild seafood) or ASC (farmed seafood). ASC and MSC certifications are the most scientifically robust, transparent and independent system of assesment and represent the highest standard for responsibly sourced seafood in the world. The presence of the panda informs and assures customers around the world that the product they are buying has achieved this standard.



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