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Certification for sustainable sea salt production

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Salt extraction on La Palma
Salt extraction on La Palma. © T.W. van Urk / shutterstock

Friend of the Sea, a project by the World Sustainability Organization, has developed certification standards for sustainable sea salt production. Companies that fulfil the criteria can use the "Friend of the Sea" eco-label for their sea salt products.

"Salt is so common that we often forget that a large part of it comes from the sea," said Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. Protection of the marine environment must also include the sustainable sea salt production.

Production can severely damage ecosystems

Sea salt production can affect the marine ecosystem and the well-being of both land and marine flora and fauna. This is because the process tends to disrupt the natural flow of water along the coast. The process alters the waterways, which in turn has a potentially negative impact on the food web, reproduction and so on.

The process of extracting salt from seawater has changed little over thousands of years. The process involves collecting water in shallow ponds or "pans" and allowing the water to evaporate. The remaining salt can then be harvested and refined. Sea salt is used in food preparation, but also in many industrial applications such as the production of chlorine.

Producers must pass audit

To meet the requirements of the "Friend of the Sea", the sea salt producers must pass an audit. The auditors examine the producer's social and environmental management systems, emergency procedures, machinery and equipment, compliance with laws and the preservation of the ecosystem. In the latter category, the salt producer must show that the construction of its salt works has not destroyed any natural ecosystem. If environmental damage should have occurred, the salt produce must submit a mitigation plan. The audit also examines the effects of the salt plant on the aquatic ecosystem and the use of hazardous substances, as well as many other factors.

Activities of Friend of the Sea

Friend of the Sea certifies sustainable practices in fisheries, aquaculture, fishmeal and omega-3 fish oil. The organization promotes pilot projects related to restaurants, sustainable shipping, whale and dolphin watching, aquariums, ornamental fish, UV creams and others. It is the only certification program for sustainable fishing that is recognized and monitored worldwide by a national accreditation body.


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