Pathways towards a healthy seafood economy

Ten Principles of Aquaculture

To increase sustainability, responsibility, and opportunity in our aquaculture system, A Greener Blue has identified a set of principles that support climate and ecosystem friendly farming methods, responsible businesses, and local communities.

defining our values

Certifications are a valuable tool. They create a circle of trust between consumers, producers, and food companies, and on a global level have helped fisheries become more sustainable while offering greater market access and profitability to certification holders.

As supply chains become more transparent, and tools like block chain increase the traceability of food ingredients, new marketplace frameworks have emerged, especially those that can capture the positive outcomes achieved by following a set of specific practices. In many cases these models are place-based, and offer tangible social, economic, and environmental benefits not only for producers but also for the communities where they work.

It’s said that the forest offers many pathways to reach a destination; the same can be said for our fisheries. Instead of focusing on certifications and their associated practices, producers are now working to define their own models based on shared values and outcomes, especially those that align with companies establishing their own environmental, social, and governance criteria.

Aligning on a set of shared principles is a vital first step in that process. The AGB Activator believes that the marketplace can accelerate change in our food systems by providing purchasers (and consumers) with more visibility into how food is grown, produced, and brought to market. Transparency and storytelling are vital tools that can help consumers across the value chain make purchases aligned with their values to support the food system they’d like to see.

In pursuit of this vision, our team of international aquaculture experts have defined Ten Principles for a Better Aquaculture to help everyone across the value chain contribute to a more sustainable seafood model.

Finfish

Principles and Practices

Finfish are “true” fish, so unlike shellfish, jellyfish or starfish, these are animals with backbones, gills, and, of course, fins. This is a large category that includes salmon, for example, or tilapia. Finfish play an important role in the larger aquatic and marine food web as both predator and prey, fueling and influencing complex energy and carbon exchanges that support biodiversity, abundance, and ecosystem resilience – from the health of coral reefs, to the availability of deepwater oxygen.

Finfish aquaculture, or fish farming, can take place in coastal ocean waters, lakes, rivers, and ponds, as well as within tanks on land. Some farmed species even start off in tanks and are moved to ponds or floating pens in the natural environment for further growth until harvest.

A better aquaculture

helps address climate change.

To fulfill its role as the sustainable protein source of the future, farmed fish must also play a part in building climate resilience and preparedness. Research suggests seafood has a notably lower carbon footprint than beef and pork, but beyond the choice of what to eat, there are ways to address emissions and resource use in how we grow and process. Whether it is through the product they grow or the types of transportation they choose, farmers and supply chain actors can work together to engrain climate-smart practices into aquaculture.

Practices

  • Producer sells locally to reduce food miles
  • Producer and distributor use lower carbon transportation methods (i.e. reduced or zero air freight)
  • There is renewable energy use at production and processing sites
  • Producer uses deforestation-free feed
  • Product packaging is sustainable (ex: reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable)

AGB finfish Case Studies

WISCONSIN, USA / FINFISH / 5 min read

Superior Fresh

A family farm producing certified-organic leafy greens and premium seafood in the Midwest US.

Idaho, USA / Finfish / 5 min read

Riverence

Protecting wild salmon and trout through responsible aquaculture and by being good stewards of the environment.

Indre Kvarøy, Norway / Finfish / 10 min read

Kvaroy​

High quality salmon with double the omega-3 content of other farmed salmon without compromising either the environment or the welfare of their fish.

Shellfish

Principles and Practices

Shellfish, specifically the bivalve mollusks that dominate shellfish aquaculture, include oysters, mussels, and clams. These are filter-feeding animals that naturally remove particles from the water, improving its quality and clarity and reducing nitrogen, thereby making the ecosystem habitable for other organisms like macroalga, plants, and corals. Some species of shellfish build physical beds which provide shelter for other organisms, protect coastlines and waterways from erosion, and sequester carbon.

A better aquaculture

helps address climate change.

To fulfill its role as the sustainable protein source of the future, farmed fish must also play a part in building climate resilience and preparedness. Research suggests seafood has a notably lower carbon footprint than beef and pork, but beyond the choice of what to eat, there are ways to address emissions and resource use in how we grow and process. Whether it is through the product they grow or the types of transportation they choose, farmers and supply chain actors can work together to engrain climate smart practices into aquaculture.

Practices

  • Producer sells locally to reduce food miles
  • Producer and distributor use lower carbon transportation methods (i.e. reduced or zero air freight)
  • There is renewable energy use at production and processing sites
  • Product packaging is sustainable (ex: reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable)
  • Producer works with scientists and coastal agencies on climate change preparedness​​

AGB shellfish Case Studies

California, USA / Shellfish / 5 min read​

Hog Island Oyster Co.

Raising four of the five edible oyster varieties found in the Northern Hemisphere, plus Manila clams on 160 acres of intertidal lands in Northern California's Tomales Bay.

Baja California, Mexico / Shellfish / 8 min read

Baja Shellfish

Premium, healthy, sustainable shellfish that improve the marine environment we all depend on and supports local communities.

Seaweed

Principles and Practices

Seaweed is a macroalgae, of which there are three types: green, brown, and red, and thousands of species and categories within those typologies. Kelp is a well-known example of an order of brown seaweeds, and many species of kelp are cultivated today. Cultivation of seaweed is also known as algaculture, and takes place in marine coastal environments.

As rapidly growing photosynthesizers, seaweed plays an important role in carbon sequestration and nutrient removal from the waters it is grown in. Dense seaweed beds are also important habitats for fish, particularly as nurseries for fish larvae and juveniles, and can even function as breakwaters for coastlines, reducing shoreline impacts and flooding during storms, for example.

A better aquaculture

helps address climate change.

Seaweeds contribute wide reaching ecosystem services both in the water during grow-out and in their application. Research shows that seaweeds transiently sequester inorganic nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, etc.) and transform them into organic compounds which is key to avoiding nutrient depletion. Producers can mitigate climate change impacts through nutrient uptake management during cultivation, emission reductions related to production and distribution, and the choice of species and application. The multiple intersections of seaweed and climate change make seaweed aquaculture an important tool for addressing broad concerns of climate change, but also reducing the impact on humans.

Practices

  • Producer engages in research to track nutrient uptake and sequestration
  • Producer receives credits/monetary compensation for nutrient uptake (nitrogen, phosphorus, or carbon)
  • Producer grows seaweed for livestock feed additives that reduce methane emissions in cows
  • Producer sells locally to reduce food miles
  • Producer and distributor use lower carbon transportation methods (i.e. reduced or zero air freight)
  • There is renewable energy use at production and processing sites
  • Product packaging is sustainable (ex: reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable)

AGB seaweed Case Studies

Maine, USA / Seaweed / 8 min read

Atlantic Sea Farms​

Making a powerful and positive impact on the health of our customers and oceans by creating craveable and innovative products from sustainably farmed sea greens, all while expanding opportunities for coastal communities.

BC, CANADA / Seaweed / 10 min read

Cascadia Seaweed Co.

The largest provider of ocean cultivated seaweed in North America, combining cultivation know-how, First Nations partnerships and progressive brand development.

Seaweed / 10 min read

CH4 Global

Producing Asparagopsis armata, a naturally abundant seaweed, for use as a feed additive to reduce methane emissions from ruminants and help the climate crisis.