Published on Georgia Strait Alliance (http://www.georgiastrait.org)

Proposed Organic Aquaculture Standards

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) had been working behind closed doors with members of the salmon farming industry to develop a standard that would allow net-cage salmon farms in Canada to be certified as "organic". Now, the draft standards are managed by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB), but still funded by DFO, and have been released for a second round of public comment.

The proposed standards cover seaweed, shellfish, and closed containment, but most worrying is that open net-cages salmon farms would be granted organic certification with little to no changes to current practices.

To view the proposed Canadian Organic Aquaculture standards, go to the Canadian General Standards Board website. The public response period is open until May 31, 2011.

What's Wrong with the Proposed Standards?

The standard does not reflect the basic principles of organics and it would allow organic certification of practices that have been shown through published scientific research to negatively impact wild salmon and marine ecosystems.

Compare the general principles of organic production with the draft aquaculture standards:

General Organic Principle: Protect the environment, minimize marine environment degradation, erosion and water quality degradation, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.

The draft Canadian aquaculture standard:

General Organic Principle: Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.

The draft Canadian aquaculture standard:

General Organic Principle: Ensure the production environment is free of known and perceived toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years prior to certification, and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not used in production.

The draft Canadian aquaculture standard:

General Organic Principle: Prohibits the use of antibiotics in the production of meats sold as certified organic.

The draft Canadian aquaculture standard:

General Organic Principle: Utilizes renewable resources in locally organized production systems.

The draft Canadian aquaculture standard:

Note: these principles are based on land-based agriculture. The standard now being put forth is based on agriculture principles because marine-based principles do not exist.


Organic standards should not be compromised to suit an industry that is unsustainable. Georgia Strait Alliance is working to transition harmful open net-cage salmon farming practices to more sustainable closed containment technology. 

Closed containment solutions can reduce or eliminate negative impacts associated with open net-cage salmon farming, such as the transference of sea lice and disease to wild salmon, farmed salmon escapes and release of waste into the marine environment.  

Take Action! 

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