Background: ESG Risks in Salmon Farming
Like the wider seafood sector, salmon-farming operations face a complex suite of ESG risks when producing and sourcing feed. Salmon require a high-protein diet, which is commonly delivered by including fishmeal and fish oil (sourced from wild fish) alongside plant proteins (such as soy) in their feed. As a result, the industry is acutely exposed to the climate-related and biodiversity-related risks associated with obtaining these ingredients.
Despite their severity, these risks are frequently overlooked. This is in part due to the consumer-held belief that the production of protein from salmon – and from seafood more broadly – is more sustainable than the production of protein from land-based animals.
All companies in this engagement are constituents of the Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index. Company analysis, therefore, dovetails Index analysis without creating an additional ranking or scoring for engagement companies.
*Tassal was acquired after this engagement was launched and will not be included in future dialogues.
Material Risks: Environmental Impact of Salmon Farming
Much of the ESG risk inherent in salmon farming arises from feed. FAIRR assessments have found salmon feed risk to be an issue for which the industry lacks a strong strategy. Whereas concerns such as disease and environmental degradation have viable, scalable solutions – for example, vaccination programmes or closed containment systems – feed is an essential input for which is there no silver bullet.
As well as accounting for around 40% of scope 3 emissions, where scope 3 can account for over 80% of all GHG emissions from salmon farming, feed leaves the industry open to an array of biodiversity-related risks. This is because of the range of marine and terrestrial ingredients required to keep salmon in optimal condition.
For example, feed production is associated with the extraction of vast quantities of wild fish, which can lead to overexploitation of stocks. Fishing has an unparalleled effect on the biodiversity of our oceans, with a third of stocks now considered overfished
Investors Signed On
Phase 2 of the engagement is supported by 76 investors, representing US $16 trillion in combined assets, an increase of US $11 trillion from Phase 1. The latest progress report, Oceans and Biodiversity Impact Report, was published in November 2022.