sustainability – nurturing our resources

Sustainability is about conducting our business in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Fish Farming – Focusing on areas of greatest impact

Environmental stewardship and sustaining a coastal way of life

Sustainability in our salmon farming operations is not only naturally connected to the marine environment but also with our social and economic responsibilities in the community. We are strongly motivated to conduct our business in a sustainable manner because we are rooted in the coastal communities where we live and work. We have generated important economic and social benefits that impact our coastal quality of life and enable conservation. Our success also enables conservation and environmental stewardship. Collectively and individually, we are mindful of managing our marine and land resources because we want to hand down a healthy and diverse marine environment for our children and grandchildren.

At Cooke Aquaculture we seek to continuously improve our sustainable practices as part of the operational decisions that are made every day, in every aspect of our business. Because we are vertically integrated (we like to say “from egg to plate”) our sustainable perspective impacts the entire value chain.

We focus on the following 5 key areas;

  1. Maintain a pristine quality marine environment
  2. Use feed made from sustainable sources
  3. Reduce energy usage and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions
  4. Reduce water use
  5. Reduce packaging and eliminate waste where feasible


Sustainable Fish Farming – Action on areas of greatest impact

  1. Maintaining environmental integrity at marine sites is good for everyone in our communities
  2. Use feed made from sustainable sources
  3. Reduce energy usage and our carbon footprint
  4. Reduce Water Use
  5. Reduce packaging and eliminate waste where feasible

Maintaining environmental integrity at marine sites is good for everyone in our communities

We locate and manage our farms with care and we use several tools to minimize their impact on the environment. An annual sampling of the ocean floor and chemical analysis of those samples leads to an environmental rating for each farm and a performance-based approach to the issuing of Approvals to Operate before fish are stocked. We depend on innovation, science and technology to preserve the biodiversity and environmental integrity of the oceans that are essential to our livelihood. Our commitment to low impact farming involves sharing the working waterfronts with other users like traditional fishers and tourism.

Here are some concrete examples:

We follow a unique, 3-bay management system of crop rotation and fallowing on our ocean farms. This more costly and sophisticated way of farming allows for the organic renewal of sites between crops, thus maintaining their natural, pristine condition for generations to come.

How it works

Use feed made from sustainable sources

Fish are naturally efficient food converters. The world's resources must be shared among an ever-growing number of people. From this perspective, fish farming is one of the most promising, progressive and sustainable agro-economic activities in the world. It produces food for the people of the world in a sustainable and ecologically-friendly manner.

Feed conversion ratio (FCR) is calculated from the number of kilograms of feed used to produce one kilogram of fish. Feeding farmed fish is more efficient than feeding land-based animals, and the average FCR for farmed fish is 1.2 kilograms of food to produce 1 kg of flesh. Ongoing improvements are continuously moving that number closer to 1:1.

Land-based agricultural species convert their feed to human food products at the rate of 2 to 4 kg for chickens and pigs and 5 to 10 kg for cattle or sheep. Fish are good converters of feed into edible protein because they are cold-blooded and do not need energy to warm their bodies. Fish are also good feed converters because they have internal systems that allow them to maintain their position at different water depths. These differences mean that they require much less maintenance energy than land-based animals and can maximize the nutrients we provide them for growth.

Using less fish in the feed reduces the impact on the ocean resources. Our goal is to reduce the impact of fish farming on wild fish stocks by reducing the amount of wild fish products in our feed.

While the health and welfare of our fish requires that we include high quality fish meal and fish oils in their diet, we have been able to reduce our reliance on marine protein sources by 70% since 2003. This was achieved partly through the substitution of fish ingredients with vegetable proteins and goes a long way towards the sustainable production of fish while protecting the wild fisheries and the global eco-system.

We optimise feeding efficiency by using cameras and underwater monitoring systems to control feeding. These systems ensure that fish are well fed while at the same time minimizing waste and avoiding accumulation of organic materials on the ocean floor under the farm.

Reduce energy usage and our carbon footprint

As part of our Environmental Management System, we are committed to continually seek ways to reduce our energy use and to look for alternative sources.  Our integrated business model leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than many competing food production systems. Where possible, we source local raw materials and we serve local and regional markets that are within one or two shipping days. We move our products using fuel efficient trucks and a two-way transport system to avoid empty loads.

Reduce Water Use

We have invested in sophisticated water recycling and filtering systems at our freshwater hatcheries. These recirculation facilities use one tenth of the water that is used by conventional flow-through operations.

Cooke Aquaculture and its subsidiary companies have created a state of the art cold chain management system that allows for a drastic reduction of ice use within our company. We strictly control the temperature of the harvest-to-delivery process so that fish are kept just above freezing from processing to delivery. This means that our Atlantic Salmon, trout and cod stay fresh longer while we are able to reduce our reliance on shipping fish in ice-loaded boxes and our overall water consumption.

In addition, we are investing in a new-generation shipping box that will be made of 100% recyclable cardboard material and will work well with our cold chain management system.

Reduce packaging and eliminate waste where feasible

Cooke Aquaculture and its subsidiaries have taken many steps toward reducing waste in every aspect of their operations from freshwater through to processing. These steps include:

  1. Using as many large one-ton feed bags on our saltwater sites as possible to minimize reliance on the smaller plastic bags
  2. Reducing the speed on all of our vessels to conserve fuel
  3. Recycling the feed bags, old nets and old rope as well as used plastic
  4. Investing in a new-generation shipping box that will be made of 100% recyclable cardboard material
  5. Investing in a new 100% recyclable plastic tray pack
  6. Introducing company-wide policies to eliminate unnecessary waste such as Styrofoam in our lunchrooms and unnecessary printing as well as the separation of all garbage into recyclable / non-recyclable refuse.