Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)

Sparus auratus

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Europe
Production method — Open net pen
Certification — Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices (GAA BAP) 3* & 4* certified
Picture of Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Updated: November 2019.

European union and Turkey are primary producers of farmed Gilthead bream. Gilthead bream are generally farmed in open sea pens and are fed a diet reliant on wild fish capture as a key ingredient. Bream farmed in this way can cause some environmental concerns, including escaped farmed fish and the data surrounding escapes; interactions between escaped and wild fish; use of chemicals, in particular antibiotics and farm level data relating to their use and some remaining concerns surrounding enforcement and regulatory controls. Gilthead bream are carnivorous fish that require more fish in their diet than farming them actually produces, leading to a net loss of marine proteins and oils. The fish used to produce their feed cannot be assured to be sourced from a sustainable supply. ASC, GAA BAP 3* & 4* and GLOBALG.A.P. certified Gilthead bream addresses some of these problems.

This rating is based on full compliance with certification requirements. Commercial buyers should therefore ensure that full compliance has been achieved in order for this rating to be applicable.

Feed Resources

Criterion score: -3

The GAA BAP Finfish and Feed Mill standards provides sound guidance to producers with regards to the provenance of feed inputs, however, it’s requirements still leave room for unsustainable/irresponsibly sourced feed inputs. The present iterations of the GAA BAP Finfish and Feed Mill standards leaves the bar relatively low with regards to sustainable feed sourcing as only 50% of marine feed ingredients are required to be in any form of certification or improvement, whilst the remainder have no such requirements. There are no requirements at present for the responsible sourcing of soya and palm oil, however requirements are coming into place in 2022. Using the latest available data indicates that this species still has a high requirement of fish oil within its diet, therefore making it a net consumer of fish protein. There are no FCR limits in place within the standards for this species at the present time.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion score: 1

The requirements of the GAA BAP Aquaculture Standard do much to mitigate against environmental impacts of production via specific, audited criteria. This include limitations on antibiotic use and the monitoring of impacts on water quality and the surrounding environment, escape prevention measures, benthic monitoring, biosecurity and fish health. As with the GLOBALG.A.P. and ASC aquaculture standards, this Standard does not prohibit the use of lethal predator control, although it is discouraged, and this is the negative driver pertaining to this section of the assessment.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion score: 1

The GAA BAP Aquaculture Standard includes criteria that address humane slaughter and animal welfare. This ensures that welfare of fish is achieved and maintained throughout production and that slaughter minimizes stress levels and ensures flesh quality.



Criterion score: 3

Allocated Aquaculture Zones are in place or in development in the main producing countries for this species, namely Greece and Turkey. This AZA concept is also incorporated into the EU’s Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Protocol. The GAA BAP standard criteria address most of the issues that you would expect to be covered by good country level regulation, however there is no independent requirement beyond legal compliance for an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to production or for land and water use. Despite these omissions there is no evidence of negative impacts in these areas. For all other issues - protection of valuable habitats and species; use of chemicals; discharges and effluents and biosecurity and disease management are deemed to be effective due to the independent audit carried out to confirm compliance.

The Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification programme comprises a suite of standards for farms, hatcheries, feed mills and processing plants addressing environmental and social issues, food safety and animal welfare. Benchmarked to GSSI and GFSI and with star ratings (1-4), it uses independent audits to provide assurance along the supply chain.


Production method

Open net pen

Farming in open net pens allows for interaction with the surrounding environment and, as such, has to be managed in such a way as to minimise negative environmental and ecological impacts.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish, White
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Spurdog, Spiny Dogfish, Dogfish, Rock Salmon or Flake
Sturgeon (Farmed)


Gilthead bream can grow to a length of 70cm and live for as long as 11 years. It is a sedentary species found in depths of up to 150m. Spawning occurs between November and December.


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