The globally respected sustainable seafood authority the Monterey Bay Aquarium has given seafood lovers the green light to eat New Zealand salmon.
New Zealand marine and freshwater farmed salmon have achieved a second successive, ‘Best Choice’ rating under the latest recommendations published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch programme this week.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps seafood buyers make choices for healthy oceans. Their recommendations suggest which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which seafood to “Avoid”.
In 2019 New Zealand’s aquaculture sector generated over $600 million in revenue, employed over 3000 Kiwis.
With 57 million copies of their consumer guide distributed around the world, as well as a popular smart phone app, website and strong social media presence, Seafood Watch is an important influencer in the foodservice and retail industries.
The Best Choice recommendation for New Zealand salmon comes after independent assessors analysed a wide range of criteria including habitat, feed, disease, wildlife mortalities, effluent and chemical use.
Aquaculture New Zealand Chief Executive Gary Hooper said sustainability was part of why New Zealand salmon was highly sought after around the world.
“New Zealand salmon are unique in many ways – the species, the environment and the methods we use, and most of all in the quality of the products we produce. We are also the only country to achieve the ‘Best Choice’ Seafood Watch recommendation for farmed salmon,” he said.
In New Zealand, focussed farming practices, strict bio-security procedures and absence of any native salmon species mean that King salmon are raised without need for vaccines or antibiotics.
New Zealand’s Greenshell mussels and Pacific oysters are also rated ‘best choice’.
“Seafood Watch is the gold standard of global consumer guides and the positive recommendation shows our aquaculture industry is leading the world with its sustainability practices,” Gary said.
The recommendation has been welcomed by farmers around the country:
New Zealand King Salmon CEO Grant Rosewarne said: “We are thrilled at the renewal of the ‘Best Choice’ recommendation which reinforces our commitment to being part of the world’s sustainable food future.
“We’re delighted that visitors to Monterey Bay Aquarium will continue to have the opportunity to taste the world’s best choice farmed salmon with Ora King available on the menu.
“Our chefs and consumers around the world will also welcome the news that their favourite salmon brands continue to lead the world in sustainable practices. We’re planning to make greater advances in sustainable farming this year, with the pending consent for New Zealand’s first open ocean salmon farm.”
King salmon is the only salmon species farmed in New Zealand, whereas the main species of salmon that is farmed globally is Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).
Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch said: “We are very proud of the salmon we grow in splendid isolation in a remote and beautiful part of New Zealand and the absolute best of these are distributed to discerning customers under our Big Glory Bay brand,” Volker said.
“The independent recognition of our salmon as sustainable fulfils a strong requirement at the high end of the international market, which we are naturally excited about.”
"Around the world and at home, our customers care about making responsible seafood choices; Monterey Bay Aquariums rating system is a key tool for helping them make good decisions.”
Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Director of Aquaculture Brian Blanchard said: “at Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, we take great care to ensure our fish are raised under environmentally sustainable farming practices,”.
“The continuation of a ‘Best Choice’ green rating, is a welcome acknowledgement of our team's ongoing efforts to exceed best practice when it comes to responsible salmon farming."
The sea pens used are made of netting and are around 18,000 cubic metres in size. New Zealand’s low stocking densities, ranging between less than 1 kg/m3 up to around 25 kg/m3 (depending on the life stage of the salmon).
About Aquaculture New Zealand
Aquaculture New Zealandwas formed as a single voice for the New Zealand aquaculture sector and to implement the industry strategy released in 2006 which outlines the industry’s vision and goals to 2025. The Strategy sets out a 10 point plan identifying the steps the organisation will be taking to work with the sector to achieve the vision of being a $1 billion industry by 2025.
Aquaculture New Zealand brings together the membership of the individual species bodies, the New Zealand Mussel Industry Council, the New Zealand Salmon Famers Association and the New Zealand Oyster Industry Association.