A salmon farm operated off the northeast coast of Skye by Organic Sea Harvest, which has Soil Association certification.

Fish farmers invited to comment on stricter rules for organic salmon


The Soil Association, a leading certifier of “organic” food in the UK, has launched a public consultation of new aquaculture standards.

The charity said that since it first developed aquaculture standards in the late 1990s, they have been enshrined in UK and European law for organic products, and some have even been adopted by the non-organic sector.

With innovation within fish farming happening at a fast pace, the Soil Association has been reviewing rules for organic producers and the proposals are now open for the aquaculture sector and the public to comment on.

“As part of our policy to keep all organic standards under review, we are proposing an update to our aquaculture standards to align them with the most recent research and developments to organic standards across Europe,” said Soil Association standards chief Chris Atkinson.

“We are seeking all views and anyone with an interest in the fish sector and sustainable food production should get involved with the consultation to help us to ensure organic continues to drive forward standards of fish farming in the UK.”

Cleaner fish

Proposals include measures to further improve welfare standards for Atlantic salmon and the wrasse and lumpfish sometimes used as cleaner fish to eat the sea lice that can attach themselves to salmon, as well as stricter rules to better manage lice and lessen potential impacts on the environment.

Additional requirements are also proposed for feed producers to record data on what feed is used, in order to generate more evidence that can help progress the standards as part of the ongoing evolution of best practice.

A second stage of the review is also planned for 2024, which is due to look at other species and respond to expected developments in legislation around aquaculture from Scottish Government.

The consultation is open for 60 days, closing on Monday, January 29, 2024. The charity’s dedicated standards review team will then assess responses and an update to the standards will be published later in the year.

A review of Soil Association organic standards for farming and growing in Northern Ireland is taking place in tandem with the aquaculture review, and this consultation also opened today.

For more information and to take part in the consultation, visit the Soil Association website. The summary of proposed changes can be found here.