Fish meal crisis – what crisis? –

Fish meal crisis – what crisis? Fish Farming Today Published:  24 September, 2004

ACCORDING to the RSPB and WWF, two reports written for them by independent consultants show that fish feed manufacturers are using threatened fish stocks to supply the Scottish aquaculture industry with salmon feed. However one of the co-authors of the reports has spoken out saying that they should not be used as a condemnation of industrial fisheries as most are well managed.

The conservation groups say that there are growing concerns about the impacts of industrial fisheries on the fish stocks themselves and on the marine food chain, but little real action is being taken to tackle these concerns. While the UK livestock industry is also a major consumer of fishmeal, the share consumed by aquaculture has shown a dramatic increase in recent years.

“Industrial fish farming is the fastest growing sector of the global food economy and Scotland is one of the largest salmon producers in this market. To feed these quantities of farmed salmon serious pressure is being placed on populations of small feed fish and questions must be raised about the sustainability of the feed fish industry, in particular blue whiting,” said Dr Rebecca Boyd of WWF Scotland.

Richard Banks of Poseidon Aquatic Resources, commented: “Sadly, the RSPB and WWF have used the reports as a condemnation of industrial fishing per se, and we have some problems with that. We agree that there are serious implications for the future regarding the balance of supplies against the problem of growing demand, but equally this shouldn’t become a problem to fisheries if managed in a sustainable manner.

“As far we are concerned, feed fish is of vital importance, but it is absolutely essential to get the management correct. We feel that the Danes, the major EU producers of industrial fish, have gone a long way to ensuring that most of these concerns are met and this is reflected in the report.

“Most industrial fisheries stocks are well managed. In the EU context the only problem fishery is for blue whiting where urgent action is required to control fish catches.

“In contrast, the EU sandeel fishery actually scores pretty well against a number of standard sustainability assessment criteria which have not been highlighted in the press releases.”

Mr Banks highlighted the following points:

· Danish fisheries control of sandeels is the most rigorous throughout Europe

· Evidence from ICES working groups show that sandeel stocks are sustainable

· By-catch limits are applied and the take of other species in the catch is fairly small, but more importantly within the legal by-catch limits set by the EU

· The management measures applied to EU industrial fisheries are more severe than management measures applied in other food fish fisheries – for example those that take high by-catches. In fact, the industrial fishery is one of the only stocks that appears to conform to the criteria laid out in the EU’s Road Map for responsible fisheries.

Richard Banks, was co-author to the report: The Fish Meal and Fish Oil Industry: Its Role In the Common Fisheries Policy; Fisheries Series, FISH 113, Directorate General for Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd (2004); AND contributor to the report: Assessment of the sustainability

of industrial fisheries producing fish meal and fish oil, RSPB, June 2004.

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