Sustainable Salmon Guide

When people buy salmon, people are often seeking a delicious and nutritious addition to their meals. However, behind this simple choice is the issue of sustainability that more consumers are increasingly aware of.

Yes, the taste and quality of salmon are important — but so is purchasing fish that’s farmed or harvested in ways that protect ecosystems and maintain healthy fish populations.

In this article, we’ll explain what sustainable salmon means, provide guidance on how to identify it, and offer tips on what to buy or avoid. This way, your seafood choices support responsible practices.

What Does Sustainable Salmon Mean?

Sustainable salmon refers to practices in both wild fisheries and aquaculture that consider the long-term health of salmon populations and minimize environmental impact.

This includes responsibly managing fish stocks to prevent overfishing, protecting habitats for salmon spawning and migration, and minimizing pollution and escapes in aquaculture.

Essentially, the goal of sustainable salmon practices is to maintain ecological balance while supporting the livelihoods of those dependent on salmon fisheries and aquaculture.

Related: What is Sustainable Fishing?

How Can I Tell If Salmon is Sustainably Sourced?

Look for specific certifications that indicate responsible fishing or farming practices. Here are the main certification labels you should be aware of:

  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification. The MSC certification is for wild-caught seafood, including salmon. When you see the MSC blue label on salmon packaging, it means that the salmon comes from a fishery that has been independently assessed and certified as meeting the MSC's environmental standard for sustainable fishing. These standards address the health of fish stocks and their impact on the ecosystem.
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Certification. When you see the ASC label on salmon products, it indicates that the salmon comes from a farm that has been independently assessed and certified to meet the ASC’s standards for responsible aquaculture. This certification means that the farm manages its operations in a way that minimizes environmental impact, maintains high fish welfare standards, and adheres to ethical practices.

Choosing products with these labels helps you make more informed decisions about your seafood consumption in a way that benefits you and the industry.

What Salmon Should You Buy or Avoid?

Many businesses are unaware of where their salmon was caught or farmed and the methods used, which might confuse customers who inquire about these details.

To help you make informed decisions, I’ve created this table summarizing what types of salmon to buy or avoid:

 Type of Salmon Buy Avoid
Atlantic Salmon (All Farmed)
  • Farmed in Maine, U.S.
  • Farmed in the Faroe Islands, Denmark
  • Any salmon certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)
  • Farmed in Canada, Chile, Norway, or Scotland, except if it’s ASC-certified


Chinook Salmon (Both Wild-Caught and Farmed)
  • Caught in the U.S. or Canada
  • Farmed in New Zealand
  • Farmed in British Columbia, Canada
  • Caught in the U.S. Puget Sound or British Columbia, Canada’s South Coast
Coho Salmon (Both Wild-Caught and Farmed)
  • Caught in the U.S.
  • Caught in Canada
  • Caught in the Columbia River above the Bonneville Dam
  • Caught in British Columbia’s South Coast
  • Farmed in Chile
Pink Salmon (All wild-caught)
  • Caught in Washington
  • N/A
Sockeye Salmon (All wild-caught)
  • Caught in the U.S.
  • N/A

Why is Sustainability Important in Salmon Fisheries?

Sustainability in salmon fisheries benefits everyone in various ways. For instance, it makes sure that you’re able to eat quality and healthy seafood that’s free from harmful chemicals and antibiotics. Sustainable fisheries also protect marine ecosystems by preventing overfishing and they allow local communities to thrive by maintaining jobs.


Sustainable salmon is the best choice for everyone. It protects our environment, supports local communities, and maintains the health and quality of the seafood we consume.

Hopefully, the information in this article has provided you with the knowledge and confidence when purchasing salmon. Remember, it helps to ask questions about the origins and farming practices of your seafood, as this pushes businesses to be more transparent.

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