Seafood Intelligence

Salmon Farming Industry & CSR / Sustainability reporting: 2013 Benchmarking Study is out


Source: Seafood Intelligence

Do salmon farmers worldwide communicate well enough? Dod they have anything to hide?

August 2013 -- 2013 Seafood Intelligence BENCHMARKING report of the World’s Top 35 salmon & trout farmers’ and Top 3 salmon feed firms' Corporate, Social & Environmental Responsibility (CSER) reporting, in English

Salmon Farming – Of CSR/RSE & Environment& “Sustainability” Reporting  - The Awakening?

SeafoodIntelligence has released the Benchmarking Report of the world’s Top 35 salmon & trout farming companies’ (CSER) reporting endeavours2013 Edition.

For the third consecutive year, salmon farming companies operating in Norway, Chile, Canada (British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador), USA (Maine), Ireland, UK (Scotland), Faroese Islands, New Zealand & Australia (Tasmania) have been benchmarked on how transparent & communicative they are when it comes to Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility issues.

New this year:  Added to this year’s benchmarking report is a separate and equally quantitative assessment of the world’s Top 3 salmon feed firms (representing ~90% of the world’s salmon feed market)’s CSER reporting.

A comprehensive update on the only report benchmarking the salmon industry CSR & Sustainability reporting world-wide.

Our benchmarking methodology assesses and rates the firms’ communication& disclosures in English for the Financial Year 2012 against a comprehensive set of 214 environmental, social and financial indicators. They are notably based on those highlighted by the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue (SAD)/Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standards & others; and those (financial & CSR) commonly expected from stock exchange-listed firms internationally.

Our CSER rating Methodology is based on three dimensions for each of the 214 indicators monitored: A) Comprehensiveness of reporting, B) Relevance of data/level of details, and C) Frequency of reporting. To these quantitative measures we have factored, for each firms, qualitative D) ‘bonus points’ aiming to reward a) Overall quality of data & website(s)’ / reports’ presentation; b) Progress; improvement on previous FY year’s reporting performance; c) Goals for Higher Sustainability Performance & Improvements’ (detailed goals, vision, leadership, etc.), including but not restricting rewards for firms that engage for the first time upon on CSR & Environment reporting.

We are happy to report some significant improvements – for some – in the quality and relevance of their public reporting to stakeholders. We nonetheless highlight the disappointing performance of many firms (the majority). Following our meetings and discussions on & off-the record with many salmon farming leaders at the ESE in Brussels in May 2013, we feel – and this transpires in the benchmarking report – that things are evolving positively when it comes to the industry’s global awareness of the Sustainability communication challenges it has to face.

We have been pleased to learn of the launch of the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) on August 15, 2013, alongside the bi-annual AquaNor exhibition in Trondheim, Norway. Time will tell ‘what, when & how’ the GSI – whose members represent 70% of the world’s farmed salmon production capacity - will address many of the Sustainability issues it faces. We look forward to engaging with them, and also hope the SeafoodIntelligence benchmarking report will provide some clues as to how to establish its ‘list of priorities’.

We are also pleased that references were made to the previous SeafoodIntelligence reports in several of the salmon companies’ Annual / Sustainability Report& press statements. We hope our benchmarking report continues to prove helpful in highlighting the salmon/aquaculture sector’s corporate endeavours, and the many challenges remaining to be addressed.

The report highlights, among others:

-       Global ratings in CSER for all firms:

o    Ratings for the world’s Top Farmed Salmon producers,

o    Ratings (different methodology) for the world’s Top Salmon Feed companies.

-       CSER rankings per countries  & Progresses on previous years,

-       Detailed matrix & company ‘Sustainability’ communication profiles & comments,

-       Progress registered vs. previous years,

-       ‘Hot’ sustainability issues which many (but not all) do not [want to?] communicate upon,

-       ‘Hot’ CSR issues which many (but not all) do not [want to?] communicate upon,

-       FY 2012 & H1 2013 Chronology of main events re. salmon farming.

-       FY 2012 farmed salmon production figures & 2013 forecasts, per company,

-       Role of women in decision-making in salmon farming,

-       Comparative table of GRI indicators used by some of the Top firms,

-       Dozens of ‘Quotes of the Year’, relating to aquaculture, salmon farming, sustainability, ASC etc.. 

-       “10 brief questions on ‘sustainability’ and CSR in salmon farming/aquaculture”

Questionnaire sent to all industry leaders

We have also asked in 2013 the industry leaders (C-suite executives, Government Agencies/Ministries, and Industry Organisations) in each of the salmon farming nations about their views on ‘Sustainability’ in the salmon farming context, asking them to answer the same set of questions: eg. how to define ‘sustainability’, what were the main challenges & opportunities for the industry & for their company, the main regulatory hold-ups, etc…

Not all have replied, but the dozen set of answers received is indeed very interesting, as well as  being quite diverse. It gives an informative insight in some of the various takes industry leaders have when it comes to ‘responsible’/’sustainable’ salmon farming. From the responses obtained - and not – one also gets a sense of which nations/sectors have the will & openness to communicate globally; and/or of who lacks in transparency… also perhaps because it is maybe the ones facing the greatest challenges?… We name those who did – ranging from Deputy Minister & Directors, to Sustainability Managers - or didn’t’ (including those who ‘promised to’ but didn’t) answer our ’10 brief questions on sustainability’…

We thank everybody who participated for their time and will to answer, as we know it has sometimes been a difficult choice. We know for a fact that several of the firms whose CEO didn’t answer did discuss the topic at Board level, before not answering… Hopefully, they too will be interested in reading of the vision of their colleagues, competitors and other custodians of a healthy marine environment…

  • Exclusive ‘Sustainability interviews’ with the CEO of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC); and with the Vice President and the Sustainability Manager of one of the world’s Top 3 salmon feed companies. Providing some insight into the programme which aims to become the world’s n°1 ‘responsible aquaculture’ consumer label (including for salmon); and into the feed sustainability challenges from a feed firm’s perspective.



The overall SeafoodIntelligence CSER benchmarking rating obtained is noted out of 10. According to the demanding CSER reporting/communication rating standards adopted in this report, we estimate that: Any rating >5 = 'Very Good'; rating [3-5] = 'Good'; rating [1.5-3] = 'Could do better/merits encouragements' rating [0.5-1.5] = 'Poor' rating< 0.5 = ‘Extremely poor’.

  • In 2013 we have witnessed new firms publishing annual and/or sustainability reports in English; and more firms are rated >5  &in the  [3-5] bracket. The ranking has also changed, highlighting what we hope can be construed as a sign of the salmon & trout industry’s “awakening” to sustainability reporting matters.
  • But the overall majority (>50%) still has a ‘poor’ or ‘extremely poor’ rating!

What the top-rated said about the SeafoodIntelligence report in 2012 (the no-so-well rated didn’t advertise that fact...):

·          Speaking of the n°1 ranking of Cermaq in SeafoodIntelligence's 2012's benchmarking survey of the world's top salmon & trout farmers' communication over corporate, social and environmental responsibility (CSR/Sustainability) reporting, the Norwegian Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Trond Giske, said on August 22, 2012: “It is very good news that Cermaq for the second year has been rated as no 1of the world's leading farming and feed producers in the benchmark report about communication of the company's social responsibility. It is my hope that Cermaq's sustainability report can be an inspiration for others.”

·          “Seafood Intelligence is one of the key news outlets reporting on the seafood industry - Mainstream Canada (August 2012), subsidiary of the world's third largest farmed salmon & n°2 fish feed producer, Oslo stock exchange-listed Cermaq.

·          “[...] The seafood intelligence report is a very comprehensive and technically-detailed review of the global industry..' -  Australian Stock Exchange-listed Tassal's Chief sustainability officer, Linda Sams, commenting in August 2012 the firm's n°3 ranking in the in SeafoodIntelligence's 2012's benchmarking survey of the world's top salmon & trout farmers' communication over corporate, social and environmental responsibility (CSR/Sustainability) reporting.

·          In 2012, Seafood Intelligence rated Tassal as one of the world’s top three Salmon farmers in corporate, social and environmental reporting. Tassal was benchmarked against elements of aquaculture standards released by the WWF led multi-stakeholder driven Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue and other criteria. This achievement is not without an extraordinary amount of hard work and dedication by all Tassal staff and we would like to acknowledge our stakeholders, partners, supporters and critics. Thank you for participating, speaking up and holding us accountable. Without this ongoing conversation we would not be the company we are today.” –  Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed salmon farming company (Australia's largest) Tassal Chairman, Managing Director & CEO’s concluding remarks in their Message from in the 2012 Annual Report (p3), referring to the Tassal rating in SeafoodIntelligence's 2012 CSR & Sustainability reporting in salmon farming  benchmarking report.


  • This report will help key players and stakeholders (including environmental NGOs and retailers) assess the level of proactive/voluntary transparency & communication endeavours displayed by top salmon farmers worldwide when it comes to corporate, social and environmental sustainability.
  • This report will help salmon farming representative bodies & firms aspiring to higher level of sustainability to compare – by topics & indicators - & benchmark their performances (where noted) and transparency with that of the leaders in the field... and perhaps with their competitors...
  • This benchmarking report will help salmon farmers, representative industry organisations, institutional & governmental decision-makers devise their own CSR/CSER communication strategies and – we hope – help them improve upon their reporting.
  • This report will help salmon farming companies considering/aiming to publish annually a CSR/CSER/Environment report (most still don’t) and learn from the best of what’s being done ‘out there’...
  • This report provides stakeholders, retail buyers and analysts with a snapshot of the 2012 salmonid aquaculture industry, available data and trends. It provides context-setting information regarding the 2012 & 2013 financial years and markets.

Some Keywords: Sustainability, salmon farming, aquaculture, corporate and social responsibility (CSR/CSER or ‘RSE’ in Chile), sustainability reporting, transparency, benchmarking, corporate communication, risk perception, risk management, environmental impacts, environmental risks, smolt, trout, coho, Chinook, environmental impacts, aquatic animal health, Børs stock exchange, Company results, market comments, transparency.

The 200p+ report can be ordered now:

    • €1,650 for unlimited user licence within same company (2013 report)


    • €2,300 for both 2013 & 2012 benchmarking reports (when ordered together)

§  Contact: subscriptions @ to order a report now.




Lets us also note here, again, that the influential Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch programme’s ‘Criteria for Aquaculture’ (January 2012 Update, p10) states: 

 “It is considered unacceptable for farms, industries or countries that export farm-raised seafood to be less than fully transparent about the environmental management measures and regulations that control the way the exported seafood was produced. This includes making those measures and regulations available in the language of the importing countries.”

 PS, 2013 Testimonials:

 August 13, 2013 statement by Cermaq, via Thomson Reuters:

Cermaq's sustainability report #1 for the third year

For the third year in a row Cermaq has been ranked by Seafood Intelligence to have the most comprehensive, relevant and frequent sustainability report within the aquaculture sector. Cermaq is rated # 1 both for its farming and its feed business.

Seafood intelligence has released its annual benchmark study of sustainability reporting of the 36 largest salmon farming companies globally and of the three largest fish feed companies.

The companies are benchmarked on a total of more than 200 indicators, including the aspects in the newly developed standard Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

The main rating dimensions are comprehensiveness, relevance and frequency of reporting. Cermaq was ranked as no 1 with a total score of 6.92 out of 10.

Seafood Intelligence concludes: - Cermaq remains the best CSER reporting firm, and the current report - which does not delve into the actual qualitative value of the Sustainability& CSR data reported upon (but rather on the qualitative value of the communication effort) - does not do full justice to the excellent and sustained level of reporting displayed by Cermaq.

- External review of quality and relevance of data is positive for open and transparent reporting. I invite our stakeholders to visit to make up their own opinions on our performance, says CEO Jon Hindar.

Further Seafood Intelligence gives Cermaq recognition for the 'navigability' of the reported data, and for reporting the 'good news' as well as the 'bad'.

- Excellence in reporting requires systematic work and contribution from all parts of our operations. All employees should be proud of this recognition, underlines Jon Hindar.

Cermaq's integrated annual and sustainability report is based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and expanded with customized indicators for aspects where GRI does not have indicators for fish farming and fish feed production, such as medicine use, sea lice, marine index etc.

In Norwegian:

Cermaq til topps på rapportering

For tredje år på rad har Cermaq blitt rangert som nr. 1 av Seafood Intelligence for å ha den mest omfattende, relevante og åpne bærekraftsrapporten innen havbrukssektoren.

- Ekstern revidering av kvalitet og relevans på våre data er positivt for åpen og transparent rapportering. Jeg inviterer våre interessenter til å se på vår rapportering på og gjøre seg opp sin egen mening om våre resultater, sier Jon Hindar, konsernsjef i Cermaq.

I en fersk pressemelding kan oppdrettsselskapet Cermaq fortelle at selskapet for tredje år på rad har blitt rangert som nr. 1 av Seafood Intelligence for å ha den mest omfattende, relevante og åpne bærekraftsrapporten innen havbrukssektoren.

Cermaq er rangert som nr. 1 både for oppdretts- og fôrvirksomheten.

Videre gir Seafood Intelligence Cermaq anerkjennelse for måten det er lagt opp til å kunne 'navigere' og finne frem i de rapporterte resultatene, og for å rapportere åpent om både gode og dårlige resultater.

- Å holde et høyt nivå på rapportering krever systematisk arbeid og bidrag fra alle deler av vår organisasjon. Alle våre ansatte kan være stolte av denne anerkjennelsen, understreker Hindar.

Hovedområdene i vurderingen er omfang, relevans og hyppighet på rapporteringen. Cermaq ble rangert som nr. 1 med et totalresultat på 6,92 poeng av 10 mulige.

Sources:  Cermaq pr & Via Thomson Reuters, MarketWatch & & & (in Norwegian).


Australia’s largest salmon farming company, ASX-listed Tassal Group, issued a statement (“Tassal Benchmarked as a top-2 Global Fish Farming Company”) on August 2, 2013, welcoming its n°2 ranking in this year's report.

Dermot O’Gorman, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Australia said:  “We are proud of our partnership with Tassal, a company which is demonstrating leadership to mitigate the environment impacts of aquaculture. This report is testament to the hard work undertaken by Tassal’s committed staff.”

Tassal’s Head of sustainability Linda Sams commented: “Our sustainability focus and the way we have reported our performance has continued to improve,” she said. “ said our sustainability reporting can serve as one of the best examples to follow, for other ambitious salmon farmers aiming to become leaders in sustainability and responsible farming. It is a very positive endorsement of the work we have done in the sustainability reporting space.”

Ms Sams said the company was targeting further improvement next year. “While recognition in this area of our business is significant, we understand there is more we can and will do and I credit our stakeholders, staff and partners with helping us reach our goals,” she said.


 Full details here:


On Twitter @Salmoskius:

@GSI_salmon 7/10 best salmon farmers in CSR & Sustainability reporting are Børs-listed; none from Chile… Benchmarking

14 of world's Top 36 salmon farmers are Chilean: Only 1 has 'good' #sustainability #CSR reporting score: Benchmarking

Cermaq ASA: Cermaq's sustainability report #1 for the third year 

Cermaq ASA: Cermaq's sustainability report #1 for the third year  #pressrelease #news

TassalSalmon ?@TassalSalmon 2 Aug

NEWSFLASH! Tassal Benchmarked as a top 2 global fish farming company. Find out more here:  #aquaculture

ASX-listed #salmon farmer @TassalSalmon& @WWF_Australia CEO comment on SeafoodIntelligence's 2013 Benchmarking Report 

Of salmon farming & transparency: The 2013 #CSR & #Sustainability reporting Benchmarking Report is out  #aquaculture


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