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Reduction fisheries under fire

16 April 2019, at 11:30am

The capture of forage fish to feed the aquaculture industry is “threatening food security and risking a collapse of marine food webs”, according to a new report.

The report highlights grave concerns about the environmental and human impacts of using fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) in aquaculture feed.

“In addition to its detrimental impacts on food security and marine food webs, the practice is driving overfishing, illegal fishing and human rights abuses in wild fishery operations”, say the authors.

Until the seas run dry: how industrial aquaculture is plundering the oceans”, published by the Changing Markets Foundation and Compassion in World Farming, reviews the latest scientific research on the impacts of reduction fisheries (where wild catch is turned in to FMFO).

It argues that: "the aquafeed sector lacks transparency and sustainability, with major aquafeed producers including Cargill Aqua Nutrition, Skretting, Mowi (formerly Marine Harvest) and BioMar sourcing raw materials from West African and Latin American countries, where the industry is undermining food security and the health of ecosystems through unsustainable fishing practices and polluting fishmeal factories."

Highlights

According to the authors of the report:

  • Almost 70 percent of landed forage fish are processed into FMFO, representing roughly 20 percent of the world’s total catch of wild fish. It’s estimated 90 percent of fish used in FMFO could be used directly for human consumption, as it comes from food grade or prime food grade fish.
  • Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food production sector. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects it will provide 60 percent of the world’s fish consumption by 2030.
  • The industry is heavily reliant on wild-caught fish for feed, with over 69 percent of fishmeal and 75 percent of all fish oil production used to feed farmed fish. FMFO is made up mainly of small forage fish (including sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring) and crustaceans (mainly krill).
  • The global fishmeal market was worth approximately US$6 billion (€5.3 billion) in 2017 and is forecast to reach US$10 billion (€8.9 billion) by 2027.
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