Anne Mette Bæk calls for collaboration between scientific bodies and political authorities


The below article was first printed in Wolrdfishing & Aquaculture. Find the original article here.

Speaking at IFFO’s recent seminar, the numbers mentioned by its director-general Petter M. Johannessen underscore the need for collaboration between stakeholders from the public and private sectors to be strengthened.

He commented that fishery management principles depend on a combination of regulations, law enforcement and scientific as well as technical knowledge, while climate change presents new challenges to fisheries governance and management.

“There is a need for 20 million tonnes of additional farmed seafood towards 2030. In this decade, 25-30 million tonnes of additional feed ingredients are therefore required. Collaboration will be of vital importance for securing enough healthy food for the ever-growing global population,” he said, pledging that IFFO will continue applying science and market research intelligence to anticipate the future state of the marine ingredients industry regarding fish stocks and biomass.

“Collaboration is key for progress and will be of vital importance for securing enough healthy food for the ever-growing global population,” he said and added that the industry also needs to challenge the supply chains again to secure access to more by-products from the processing of wild-caught and farmed seafood which represents a huge unused resource.

Marine ingredients play a pivotal role

“As we all know feeds are a vital part of the global food production system,” said IFFO’s President Anne Mette Baek, stating that on a global scale its sustainability impacts on the environment, on local communities’ health and livelihoods, and traceability are coming under increased scrutiny, and this is only natural.

“This should be seen as an opportunity to provide information on the way the industry operates. Marine ingredients are a key component of feeds and our sector is being increasingly scrutinised. This is something we want to address in a constructive way,” she said, speaking at a recent IFFO meeting.

“Aquaculture is the fastest growing global production of animal protein today. FAO estimates that by 2030, aquaculture will account for two-thirds of total seafood production. An increase in global aquaculture production requires an increased supply of fish feed. Globally we will therefore be facing a situation where the supply of feed will be a limiting factor to aquaculture growth. This triggers a growing interest in what the future of seafood will look like.”

She commented that IFFO has no doubt that marine ingredients, in combination with other ingredients, will play a central role in supplying stable volumes from responsibly-managed fisheries providing reliable nutritional benefits.

“We believe in responsible fishing, based on solid fishery management principles. Certification standards help flag the ecological, social and economic successes that certified small pelagic fisheries and fishmeal plants have obtained so far. They also set the target for those producers not yet achieving the standards.”

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, raised a key question in 2019: Can we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries? The Commission presented a diet that is healthy for both people and planet and where seafood plays a key role with its many human health benefits connected to the consumption of important omega 3 fatty acids.

“At IFFO we believe that quality feed means quality food. Marine ingredients, mostly fishmeal and fish oil, have been key contributors to developments of aquaculture because of the unique combination of micronutrients, amino acids and omega3s they offer in a single package,” Anne Mette Bæk said.

A significant challenge is presented by climate change to fisheries governance and management around the world as rising temperatures continue to cause some of the world’s largest fish stocks to shift their distributions.

“Scientific knowledge is improving on these potential redistribution patterns and is also providing strategic thinking to take relevant adaptation measures,” she said.

“We want to stick to the science and this is why IFFO is well connected to the academic network. We are happy to produce scientific knowledge that can help understand complex subjects.”

Updating Fish-in:fish-out ratios

She observed that the general public’s focus tends to be more on raw materials than on processing, and IFFO believes that both sourcing and production should be assessed.

“Certification of small pelagic fisheries and of fishmeal and fish oil plants is driving positive change both on the water and on land. Not only are half of all marine ingredients worldwide sourced and produced responsibly, they are also audited against robust standards relying on independent and accredited certification bodies. IFFO works hand in hand with MarinTrust to ensure that the requirements for marine ingredients to be certified are well understood and the assurances they bring to the sector are clearly outlined,” she said.

“But we need to be ready to face new challenges and mobilise the industry to address them.”

IFFO is building a library of actions taken by its members from across our industry to mitigate carbon emissions and adapt to climate change, ahead of COP26 in November this year. These accounts will be presented alongside the latest scientific insights on climate change and how it affects the industry, in the expectation that this will help promote best practices.

Governments need to take responsibility

“In this changing landscape, challenges are everywhere. We believe that collaboration within the value chain, but also engagement with local authorities, should be the focus of our attention. Management of fish stocks is critical to ensure sustainability of the fishing industry and the feed and food industries which rely on it,” she said. pointing out that this is a debate where collaboration between scientific bodies and political authorities is required.

“In the case of some European fisheries, quota sharing for 2021 still has to be agreed upon by coastal states with regards to blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel. The lack of agreement has led to suspension by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) of certificates for these stocks.”

IFFO points out that the European fishing industry, the certificate holders, have put much effort into this discussion, as have the marine ingredients industry and the feed producers.

“The bottom line is for governments to take responsibility and ensure an international agreement on allocation,” she said.

“The management of these fish stocks can be a driver for increased collaboration between stakeholders from public and private sectors, not only in Europe, but also in other key regions where fishery management principles depend on a combination of regulations, law enforcement and scientific as well as technical knowledge.”

Busy year

Petter M. Johannessen reported that 2020 was a busy year for IFFO, during which it focused on increasing value creation for its members despite the consequences of Covid-19. A new market intelligence system has been set up to increase market coverage, plus an innovative traceability system is in development with Marin Trust to encompass activities from fishing to feed, using key information such as species, catch area, gear, vessel name, fishmeal plant, with the aim of fulfilling the environmental and commercial objectives (IUU and origin) of the market.

Focusing on Asia, IFFO has also been developing its knowledge on Asian markets and working on the new Chinese fishmeal standard. To address existing challenges and develop best practices for the future, IFFO is continuously engaging with key stakeholders and the whole value chain, with science being core to this approach.

IFFO has been looking at Fish-In:Fish Out (FIFO) ratios and developing a more sophisticated approach. It has also been also applying science to anticipate the future state of the marine ingredients industry with regard to fish stocks and biomass and investigating the potential of new marine raw materials through joining initiatives on sustainable harvesting of mesopelagic species.