Forage fish ‘valid’ in aquafeed

IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organisation, has tried to clarify the debate on forage fish, saying their use in aquafeeds is compatible with sustainability.
As long as fishmeal and fish oil are produced from well managed fisheries, or from the by-products from fish from well managed fisheries, then their use in aquafeeds is valid, said IFFO.
The organisation has published a position paper analysing the forage fish dependency ratio (FFDR), an often quoted term in the dialogue on fed aquaculture sustainability.
IFFO said caution needs to be exercised in how the information is interpreted, and the figures produced for FFDR should not be examined in isolation, nor should values for FFDR be used directly as measures of environmental sustainability.
Fishmeal and fish oil produced from forage fish provides a substantial contribution to global food production and consequently is essential in meeting the nutritional requirements of billions of people around the world, said IFFO.
‘The use of the term FFDR confuses the issue by incorrectly assuming that the species used in marine ingredient production would have higher value to society in other areas, such as direct consumption markets, or by environmental benefits through conservation.
‘Currently, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is seeking feedback on FFDR in its Salmon Standard, which is open and reflects a proposal by the ASC to reduce the FFDR requirements even further for both fishmeal and fish oil.
‘At a time when salmon farmers may wish to differentiate their product through higher marine ingredient inclusions in their feeds, FFDR and the setting of values in ASC Salmon Standard effectively denies that opportunity to those farmers who may wish to be both ASC certified and produce premium end, niche product, even if this is a minor proportion of overall production and has little effect on global fishmeal and fish oil supply.’
Dr Neil Auchterlonie (pictured), technical director of IFFO, said: ‘There is often a lot of focus on the term FFDR in analyses of fed aquaculture’s environmental impact, but in reality the concept has little bearing on the harvest levels of forage fish populations, although it was constructed to do exactly that.’