The climate friendly protein - MOWI - Ireland

The climate friendly protein

Healthy salmon
Healthy salmon

The year 2018 may retrospectively be seen as the year that climate change and environmentalism went from being something of a niche interest to become the centre stage focus of the mainstream. Aquaculture, and specifically salmon farming, naturally has a good story to tell but won’t rest on its laurels.

Last October, when the United Nation’s global warming report was published, its clarion call to action was so powerful that the message topped headlines around the world; the IPCC report concisely explained why greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 if we are to avert global environmental catastrophe and keep below the 1.5°C threshold above pre-industrial levels. Undoubtedly, 2018 ended on a note of heightened environmental awareness around the planet, with a collective understanding that the bar for our environmental goals and targets must be raised.

Setting ambitious targets

Mowi’s ambition is to continually strive towards alignment with these goals. In order to remain a viable business in the future, it is essential that we act responsibly, transparently and proactively. We focus on measuring and reducing our energy consumption and each year we work with an independent third party to report and review energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. This data is made public along with our commitment to the Carbon Disclosure Project (, an organisation that drives disclosure, insight and action towards a sustainable economy by benchmarking over 6.000 businesses and nearly one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Recognition of climate change is a material element for Mowi and we have instigated a number of initiatives across our farming business, feed business and in sales and marketing to mitigate and reduce our impact on the planet.

Lord Stern of the London School of Economics said: “The low carbon economy is the growth story of the 21st Century … the story has grown stronger and stronger and is really compelling now.” Aquaculture does have natural advantages in terms of energy efficiency and we believe it is an important part of the solution towards a carbon friendly future. Compared with terrestrial protein equivalencies, farmed fish do not have to regulate body temperature nor vie with significant gravity. With a lower FCR, higher protein and energy retention, and higher edible yields, sea pen aquaculture results in farm-raised salmon having a carbon footprint of 2.9kg/CO2e per Kg, which is less than one tenth that of beef production (30 Kg) and approximately half that of pork (5.9 Kg). Mowi’s opportunity is to capitalise on these positive aspects of our business whilst seeking to find paths of energy reduction in our more energy intensive activities.

“Employee awareness is at the core of our strategy on reporting, reduction targets and energy saving initiatives,” says Catarina Martins, Mowi’s Group Manager of Environment and Sustainability. In terms of GHG emissions and energy intensity, the ambition for 2018 has been a 10 percent reduction in our processing plants compared to 2016. We reduced our GHG emissions at in 43% of our plants while 24% of our plants achieved the energy intensity reduction target.

Focusing efforts

Since a large proportion of Mowi’s relative GHG emissions are generated by our processing plants, this has been an area of increased scrutiny. From replacing traditional halide and fluorescent lighting with LED units, to implementing thermal solutions – such as air curtains to optimising ammonia compressors and condenser efficiency – the potential for gradual yet significant improvement is considerable.

Across the group, our increased focus and management awareness continues to lead to incremental gains. Our targets are comprehensive and growing, for examples: logistics and planning for lower transport inputs and the replacement and upgrading of old equipment for more efficient modern counterparts; the use of sensors for lighting solutions; heat re-use through recovery and heat exchangers; solar boiler systems; reducing standby power consumption; installation of rapid doors; the use of phase compensators; and simply turning off equipment during lunch and breaks.

Third-party monitoring of results

Our ongoing commitment to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification program requires energy consumption and GHG emissions reporting per certified site. This will only increase as the ASC standard is rolled out across our farms globally. Our membership of the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship Initiative, supported by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SeaBOS), includes in its ethos of Corporate Sustainability a priority towards reduction of GHG emissions.

As we appear to be entering the Anthropocene era, a time when humanity’s collective activity has started to directly affect our planet’s environment and stability, Mowi will be at the forefront, pioneering seafood production whilst contributing to the realisation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), playing an ever more important role in climate change mitigation.

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