EFFOP: “No binding targets for fishmeal reduction in aquafeed”


The following feedback was given by European Fishmeal and Fish oil Producers to the European Commission regarding the initiative “Blue bioeconomy – towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector”. You can see the initiative and the feedback here. 

European Fishmeal (EFFOP) welcomes the initiative towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector. However, we disagree with the setting of “Binding targets for substitution of fish-based fish feed” as suggested under “Option 3: Targeted activities to support the sustainable growth of the algae sector including regulatory measures”. We disagree for several reasons:

Aquaculture production is significantly increasing and provides an increasing share of the supply of fish for human consumption. To support the growing aquaculture production of marine fish, there is a need for increasing amounts of fish feed, including marine ingredients both from algae and fish.

Fishmeal and fish oil are limited ingredients used in fish feed. The latter because of increasing demands from aquaculture, the requirements for responsible and sustainably sourced raw materials, increased prices and increasing availability of alternative competing feed ingredients. Therefore, aquaculture feeds will continue to have low inclusion levels of fishmeal and fish oil. Fishmeal and fish oil will increasingly become strategic ingredients used at critical stages in the fish life and to secure optimal or specific growth performances, e.g. as ingredients in organic fish feed, where an addition of artificial amino acids is not permitted. Fish health and human health require marine ingredients (EPA and DHA) e.g. from fish oil, either by direct human consumption or via consumption of fish.

EPA and DHA are central components in all cell membranes – particularly important for the development of the brain and vision early in life. EPA and DHA contribute to the function of the heart, blood system and immune system.

Why fishmeal and fish oil are sustainable:

  • Fishmeal and fish oil are produced mainly from small, short-lived fish with little or no potential for direct human consumption as well as from recycled trimmings from fish processing for human consumption.
  • The major species used to produce fishmeal and fish oil in Europe are capelin, sandeel, blue whiting, sprat, Norway pout and boarfish.
  • The production is always based on a sustainable exploitation of natural resources. All fish stocks used to produce fishmeal and fish oil in European countries are subject to strict catch limitations. The total allowable catches (TACs) are based on biological advice and under strict governmental regulation.
  • A growing amount of raw material comes from recycled trimmings. The fillet yield for most fish species varies between 30% and 65% of the mass of the fish, and the cut-offs constitute a valuable resource for the fishmeal and fish oil producers. Europe is leading in optimizing the exploitation of these valuable marine resources.
  • All members of EFFOP support and implement the FAO code of conduct for responsible fisheries.
  • Aquaculture production has a low environmental footprint compared to the production of other foods e.g. beef and pork.
  • Fishmeal as a protein ingredient competes openly with other protein sources. EFFOP recognizes a need for other protein sources in agriculture and aquaculture feed to meet the global food demand. Alternatives should be equally sustainable and traceable.

Business and politicians alike have in more than a decade aimed at making sustainability a critical competitive parameter for business development and sourcing. By prioritizing one protein source over the other, EFFOP fear that the competition to achieve the most sustainable ingredient, which is a crucial driver in the green transition, will be reduced. According to Maiolo et al. (2020) [1], e.g. dried microalgae biomass from Tetraselmis suecica, have environmental effects on global warming of 15,371 kg CO2-e  per ton of feed, the climate effect of soybean meal and soybean oil from Brazil is 6,250 and 7,940 kg CO2-e per ton of feed, respectively, much higher vis-à-vis the 1,310 kg CO2-e per ton of fishmeal found by Silva et al. (2017)[2].

With a finite supply of fishmeal and fish oil, further growth of the aquaculture feed production will have to result in an even further reduction of the inclusion of marine resources in the diets. Trimmings from aquaculture products represent a potential new source of raw material for fishmeal and fish oil manufacture, analogous to the production of processed animal proteins from the terrestrial farming sector.

In addition, new raw materials such as algae, single cell proteins, insect meal and improved traditional raw material like soy, rape, corn will be necessary, although some of these materials are yet a long way from achieving commercial volumes of supply. Also, more specific knowledge about the exact nutritional requirement for individual species will be important, as these tend to vary across the high number of fed aquaculture species. Any other ingredient used in aquafeeds should be expected to be subjected to the same level of scrutiny applied to marine-source materials. Therefore, a phasing out of fishmeal and fish oil should not be recommended. EFFOP supports measures to reduce the dependency on critical feed materials (e.g. soya grown on deforested land) by fostering alternative feed materials issued from responsible sourcing such as insects, marine feed stocks (e.g. fish and algae) and by-products from the bio-economy (e.g. fish waste).



[1] Maiolo, S., Parisi, G., Biondi, N. et al. Fishmeal partial substitution within aquafeed formulations: life cycle assessment of four alternative protein sources. Int J Life Cycle Assess 25, 1455–1471 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-020-01759-z

[2] Silva, C.B., Valente, L.M.P., Matos, E. et al. Life cycle assessment of aquafeed ingredients. Int J Life Cycle Assess 23, 995–1017 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-017-1414-8

Interview: European Fishmeal on the marine ingredient industry


The following article was first brought in the Chinese media outlet FishFirst – November 2020 edition. The following, translated version is from IFFO (International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation).

Anne Mette Baek is head of the European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers Association. She is also president of IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organisation, and the executive director of Marine Ingredients Denmark. She provides below an update focusing on marine ingredients and European markets*.

This interview was first published in the Chinese media outlet FishFirst – November 2020 edition, to be downloaded in Chinese in the downloads section of this page

-Has the COVID crisis impacted the European fishmeal and oil producers so far?

Events or disruptions affecting the supply chains are reflected in the global trading of marine ingredients, whose value chain relies on a wide variety of stakeholders, from fishermen to fishmeal and fish oil producers, feed producers, retailers and certification programmes. The effects of Covid 19 across the sector have proven to affect trimmings mostly: a four month-closure of fish outlets in the United Kingdom and Ireland resulted in a reduced availability of fish trimmings.

The industry has been swift to adapt to the pandemic in order to keep providing the required volumes. Adjusted protocols have been designed and implemented with food safety as well as staff safety and welfare as key requirements. In August 2020 the landings of Northern European countries (mainly Norway and Denmark) were higher than average compared with the 2011- 2019 average for the same month.

– What are the main discussions affecting the European fishing sector in terms of regulation?

The revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (a legislative act that sets out a goal that all countries within the European Union (EU) must achieve) is a core topic for us at EFFOP, the European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers Association. It consists of determining the legal framework which will apply within the European Union to industrial installations in terms of emissions regulations (air, water, dust, noise etc). Its main purpose is to create a level playing field for environmental proctection within the EU by providing guideline and documentation on the best technical, environmental, manufacturing, production, etc. techniques and methods.

In addition, the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on December 31st 2020 (also known as “Brexit”) has generated uncertainty, which is proving to be very critical to our industry. Negotiations are still ongoing to establish a Free Trade Agreement as well as an agreement on future relations between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union. Fisheries are one of the core topics to be addressed and it is hoped that an agreement will be reached on quotas and access to the fishing zones.

– How is the European fishing sector regulated?

The major European stocks used for fishmeal and fish oil are blue whiting, capelin, sprat, sand eel and Norway pout. They are used alongside trimmings from herring, mackerel, tuna whitefish as well as aquaculture species. All fish stocks sourced for fishmeal and fish oil in European countries have catch limitations. The total allowable catches (TACs) are based on biological advice and under governmental regulation and control. The principle of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) applies for TAC and quotas. It allows the management of forage fish stocks around the world by adjusting fishing pressure to achieve long term maximum sustainable yield. Biological advice on fish stocks is given by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). Agreements on TAC/quotas are decided:

  • Between the coastal states for the following species: blue whiting, atlanto-scandian herring, mackerel. To date (October 2020), no agreement has been reached on these species with regards to the allocation to each coastal state for the 2020/2021 period.
  • Nationally/within the European Union for capelin, sprat, sand-eel, boarfish, norway pout, herring stocks
  • In bilateral agreements between the countries
  • In international agreements within the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)

-Are there specific concerns regarding the status of key pelagic stocks in Europe?

According to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership’s reduction fisheries report published in 2019, 88% of the fishmeal and fish oil sourced from European and Latin American reduction fisheries comes from stocks that are at least “reasonably well-managed”.

Blue whiting, Norwegian spring-spawning herring (NSSH) and NEA Mackerel are of major importance as raw material for the fishmeal and fish oil producing members of European Fishmeal both as whole fish (Blue whiting) and as trimmings (NSSH and NEA Mackerel).

-What consumption trends do the European fishmeal and fish oil producers anticipate for the forthcoming years?

Traceability is becoming a major requirement for retailers and consumers. Producers as well as certification schemes are adjusting to these requirements which, in the long term, should add value to all products.

-What are the European producers of fishmeal and fish oil particularly proud of? Is there anything specific to the European production of marine ingredients?

Today, the European industry is improving its practices with sustainability as the main driver.

The European fishmeal and fish oil industry is already leading the way in terms of sustainability, alongside Peru.

Members of the European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers Association work with either the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and MarinTrust to have the products they source and produce certified, depending on countries and species.

The focus is mainly on environmental impacts and consumption patterns, with further refining of raw materials, freshness of the fish, use of energy and water and management of waste and odours, where huge progress has been made.

– Is there a potential in Europe to increase the share of by-products that are used to produce fishmeal and fish oil?

Throughout the world, 1/3 of raw material for fish meal and fish oil comes from by-products resulting from processing of fish. This practice reflects how the circular economy can be implemented tangibly. EFFOP Members use a higher proportion of total raw materials sourced (37%) and have a very high degree of byproduct utilization with some plants operating on byproducts alone. The largest potential for an increased use of by-products lies in Asia.

 -What is the state of the demand for marine-based ingredients from the nutraceutical sector in Europe?

Fish oil is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, and can supplement diets inadequate in these fatty acids through farmed fish, especially oily fish such as salmonids fed on fish oil, or directly in a purified form (nutraceuticals). Aquaculture worldwide consumes 70% of the fish oil, followed by the pharmaceutical sector with 20%. In 2019, most of the growth in the omega-3 demand was concentrated in emerging economies, with dietary supplements adding the most volume, according to GOED, the global organization for EPA & DHA omega-3s.

The daily recommended intake of EPA and DHA is 0.25 to 0.50 g. Further research is being carried out especially as a way to provide treatments following the covid-19 outbreak. The pandemic has triggered an increased interest in EPA and DHA on all continents.

However, the current interpretation of the European Commission of the European regulation does not currently allow us to produce fish oil both for human consumption and for feed in the same plants. European producers have since 2016 worked to obtain acceptance from the EU Commission that existing regulation allows processing of products for human consumption and feed in the same etsablishments when seperating production in time.

-The demand for omega3s is rising. What will be required in the future to meet the demand?

Production of fishmeal and fish oil has been a steady figure for 25 years: additional sources are needed to provide the additional 25 million metric tons that will be needed by 2030 to feed the world through aquaculture. The challenge is to have enough raw materials.

As for quality, fishmeal and fish oil contain essential nutrients for aquafeeds that are beneficial to farmed fish growth, health and welfare. Those essential nutrients are found only in very limited quantities, or not at all, in other feed ingredients – other feed ingredients do not possess the nutritional profile of fishmeal and fish oil. Fishmeal is highly digestible. The high digestibility links to the superior feed conversion ratios (FCRs) that are often seen with high fishmeal inclusions. The proteins in fishmeal have excellent amino acid profiles that fit precisely the amino acid requirements for carnivorous fish species. The modern aquaculture industry would not exist in its current form without these ingredients as they meet fish nutritional requirements in a single package.

The additional ingredients that are being developed need to be used effectively alongside fishmeal and fish oil to provide optimal fish nutrition and optimal quantity for the many years to come.


* Below is a list of European countries that already have market access of aquatic products for feed purposes to China:


– Denmark

– Iceland

– Norway

– Russia

FAO: New interactive presentation on sustaining our oceans and Strengthening the science-policy nexus


“Fisheries make a crucial and growing contribution to food, nutrition and livelihood security. Yet, despite significant successes in some regions the proportion of marine fish stocks fished within biologically sustainable levels continues to decline. What innovative fisheries policy and management interventions are needed to secure fisheries sustainability? How can sustainable fisheries contribute to securing the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the end of hunger and poverty? How do we ensure that nutritious aquatic foods reach those that need it most, now and in the future?”

On November 18-21, 2019 FAO (The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization) held a three-day symposium in Rome trying to answer just these questions. Besides producing an in-depth report with an outlook for the symposium, FAO has produced a very informative, interactive brush up of the key points from the International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability held last year in Rome. The eight sessions from the symposium have been condensed into the very key elements of each session.

1) The status of global and regional fisheries sustainability and its implications for policy and management.

2) Sustainable fisheries: linking biodiversity conservation and food security

3) Fish in food security and nutrition: from tide to table

4) Securing sustainable fisheries livelihoods

5) The economics of fisheries

6) Fisheries management in the face of a changing climate

7) Fisheries information systems and new technologies

8) Policy opportunities for fisheries in the twenty-first century 

The recommendations that have come out of the symposium are expected to be applicable in the medium to long term, but also to address times of crisis like the one we are living now with COVID-19. Now more than ever, it is critical that we build resilient and sustainable food systems that leave no one behind.

“Resilience in food systems is crucial for us as suppliers, and we therefore highly supports the work done by FAO,” says Anne Mette Bæk, managing director of European Fishmeal

Click here to see the interactive presentation

You can also find the full outlet of the symposium here

Coastal states set TAC for 2021


European Fishmeal was present as an observer during this year’s NEAFC negotiations (North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission) were the political negotiators are presented for the scientific advice for fisheries stocks in 2021 before they gather to set the TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for 2021.

The coastal states counts delegations from the European Union, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, the Russian Federation and, for the first time, the United Kingdom, who because of Brexit negotiated for themselves.

The following quotas were decided:

For blue whiting, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the United Kingdom, and the European Union agreed to set the TAC for 2021 at 929,292 tonnes. This TAC is in line with ICES advice and represents a 20% decrease compared to 2020.

The coastal states did not, however, agree on how to divide the TAC to each state. EU maintains its claim at 41% as a starting point for the coming negotiates. The overfishing of blue whiting is hence expected to continue in 2021.

For Norweigan Spring Spawning herring (NSSH) the delegations agreed to set the TAC for 2021 at 651,033 tonnes. This TAC is also in line with the ICES advice and represents a 6% increase compared to 2020.

For mackerel, delegations agreed that the scientific advice provided by ICES, which is in line with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) approach, forms a good basis for setting the TAC for 2021 (not set yet). The negotiators are expected to agree in setting TAC aligned with ICES’ advice on 852,284, which is an 8% reduction compared to the 2020 advice.

You can read more about the agreement here.

Advisory Councils: What are the impacts of marine wind energy?


The technological development that during the last decade has increased the profitability of especially offshore wind farms have rocketed the expansion of marine wind energy, and thus the marine activities that follow. With this in mind, the Pelagic Advisory Council, of which European Fishmeal is a member, the North Sea Advisory Council, and the North-Western Waters Advisory Council, ask for independent scientific advice on how marine wind energy affects commercial fish stocks.

The offshore wind energy industry has expanded rapidly during the last decade. In Denmark alone, the number of offshore wind turbines has grown from 314 in 2009 to 558 in 2019, an increase of 78%. Today there are 5,047 grid-connected offshore wind turbines across Europe with an average distance to shore of 59km and an average water depth of 33m, and with a total height of up to 260m.

The rapid and exponential expansion of offshore wind turbines means that the need for sound, reliable and independent research on the environmental impact has increased correspondingly.

Fisheries and offshore wind energy developments coexisting is vital for both food and energy production in the future. However, the understanding of interactions and impacts of these rapidly expanding offshore wind developments on fisheries remains limited.

What the joint advisory councils call for is, that research and knowledge on the impacts of offshore wind farms on the marine environment keep up with the rapid development. Because if we do not know how this expansion affects the marine life and the ecosystem, we can end up doing irrevocable damage” says Søren Anker Pedersen, Chief Biologist at European Fishmeal.

The NWWAC, NSAC and PELAC have joined forces in a joint Focus Group on impacts from offshore wind farms, to formulate the specific research needs and advice deliverables for a non-recurrent request to from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

All three AC’s would benefit from ICES advice on the following general research questions: The full advice from the advisory councils can be read here. 

  • What is the impact of habitat change on larval, juvenile, and adult stages of fish and invertebrate species in a variety of ways of habitat changes associated with offshore wind energy facility construction and operation,( for example loss of hard bottom and sand wave habitats due to sedimentation and scouring, addition of high-relief habitat around turbines, redistribution/displacement of important spawning, nursery, and foraging habitats?
  • What are the impacts of changes in sea surface and seafloor circulation patterns associated with the development of offshore wind energy facilities on patterns of larval drift and settlement, for example in cod, as well as the cumulative impacts of several wind parks situated closely together and of all marine activity in the geographical vicinity considered together?
  • What are the impacts of changes on upwelling events and productivity cycles that drive fish production, turbidity and sedimentation processes that influence species assemblage structure and trophic interactions?
  • What are the behavioural and physical effects related to construction activities of offshore wind energy developments, for example high impulse activities such as pile-driving and seismic exploration, on larval/adult life stages of commercially exploited fish and invertebrate species?
  • What is the impact of electromagnetic energy leaking from offshore wind installation, including transmission cables on the seafloor, on elasmobranch species, which use electromagnetic fields to navigate and hunt for food?
  • Is there an increased risk regarding the introduction of invasive species both during both development and construction phase of offshore wind energy developments?
  • Does increased noise and vibration associated with the operation of windfarm developments and increased boat traffic result in increased larval mortality for commercially exploited fish and invertebrate species, displacement of or interruption to migration patterns and reproductive behaviours, alteration of species distributions, and injury or mortality of fish?
  • To what extent have accumulations of offshore wind farm developments and other noise sources been taken into consideration in existing research, and within EIAs? When considering existing environmental impact assessments (EIAs) carried out prior to offshore wind farm developments, what parameters are not addressed that would be relevant to be included to determine the impact of the surveys on (the major) commercially exploited stocks within an ecosystem context for example via model-based approaches as identified by ICES WGODF?
  • What are the adverse responses (life cycle, biological functions) of larval, juvenile, and adult stages of fish and invertebrate species to potential pollution from wind turbine developments (for example structures, paints, sacrificial anodes)? Are there any recommendations to avoid and reduce these potential impacts?
  • What are the cumulate impacts relating to both the upscaling of existing wind farms and the colocation of several wind farms in the same geographical area on the environment and natural resources, and specifically on spawning grounds?
  • What are the impacts on lobster and crab populations in shallower waters close inshore where cable laying, including associated seismic surveys related to offshore wind farms, takes place?

EFFOP GA: New and old faces on the board


The annual General Assembly of European Fishmeal was held November 12th 2020 as an online session.

Johannes Palsson from Danish FF Skagen was reelected as president and Frank Trearty from the UK division of Pelagia as vice president.

There were some changes to the board as Toomas Kevvai from Estonian Eesti Kalatootjate Keskühistu and Roberto Casas Abeijón from the Spanish Auxiliar Conservera (AUCOSA) entered the board as new members of the European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers association while Christian Bisgaard from Biovecal left the board.

. The board is now as follows:

  • Kyrre Dale, Norway
  • Frank Trearty, Ireland (Vice president)
  • Johannes Palsson, Denmark (president)
  • Johann Petur Andersen, Iceland
  • Odd Eliasson, Faroe Islands
  • Toby Parker, UK
  • Toomas Kevvai, Estonia
  • Roberto Casas Abeijón, Spain

The general assembly also welcomed the new associated member, 3A Antioxidants.

The General assembly was followed by a presentation by Mark Payne, PhD, Senior Researcher, DTU Aqua on Blue whiting – prediction of stock development (recruitment).

Next year’s General Assembly will take place 27 of August as part of the biennial members’ conference in Skagen.