EFFOP Conference 2024: Uniting for a Sustainable Blue Future


We held our biennial conference in Laulasmaa, Estonia, from June 4th to 7th, 2024. The event brought together participants from the wider European fishmeal and fish oil industry, associated members, researchers, politicians, and civil servants.  The conference successfully addressed the current state of the Baltic Sea and included excursions to the beautiful Pakri Peninsula and a visit to the factory of our Estonian member, Eesti Kalatootjate Keskühistu. The event also featured discussions on market trends, present challenges, and future directions for the industry.

Attendees included representatives from the European fishmeal and fish oil industry, associated members who discussed new technologies and innovations, researchers who presented on economic and environmental trends, and politicians and civil servants from the EU Commission and Estonian government.

As European representatives, we take pride in hosting a conference that unites the industry, researchers, and policymakers to address current challenges and look at future solutions. European producers play a crucial role in the blue value chain, linking fisheries and the utilization of side-streams to aquaculture and the consumption of healthy blue proteins.

Our industry intersects with various sectors, including fishing, aquaculture, and animal feed. That’s why we adopt a holistic approach to embrace all stakeholders in the food system. This perspective helps us understand the dynamics of our sector and to identify opportunities and challenges throughout the value chain. The industry must address numerous issues, including fisheries management, climate and environmental concerns, energy, supply security, and public health. Complex value chains demand efficient solutions, and it is our responsibility to meet these challenges.

The successful event included discussions on the Baltic Sea’s condition, excursions to the beautiful Pakri Peninsula, a factory visit to our Estonian member Eesti Kalatootjate Keskühistu, and sessions on market trends, current challenges, and future directions. Read more and get a glimpse of the conference.

Diving into the Baltic Sea: Challenges and Prospects

The Baltic Sea faces significant challenges, such as land-based pollution and decreasing oxygen levels. These issues have led to a decline in fishing quotas in recent years. Despite this, the Baltic Sea remains an important source of herring and sprat, which are used for human consumption or processed into fishmeal and fish oil by utilizing the filleting side-streams. Additionally, aquaculture is becoming increasingly vital in the region’s food production systems.

Addressing the rising land-based pollution is crucial, as it adversely affects the coastal communities and marine environment. Policymakers need to take urgent action to mitigate this issue and prevent further deterioration of the Baltic Sea.

Another important aspect is the efficient use of side-streams and by-products to produce essential marine ingredients such as fishmeal and fish oil. These ingredients are primarily used in the aquaculture feed production system, which is known for being economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. EFFOP sources 40 percent of its raw materials from leftovers obtained during the processing of fish meant for human consumption. Remarkably, up to 60 percent of fresh fish can be discarded as waste during the filleting process, despite containing valuable fish proteins and oils. Incorporating these by-products into fishmeal and fish oil production not only optimizes the use of natural resources but also contributes to the creation of healthy aquaculture products.

Zooming Out: General Tendencies and the Way Forward

Our industry operates at the intersection of various sectors, including fishing, aquaculture, and animal feed. It is crucial to adopt a holistic approach to ensure we consider all stakeholders involved in the food system. With the global population growing, the need for sustainable food production systems, such as aquaculture, is increasing. Consequently, the demand for aquafeed is expected to rise, highlighting the importance of marine ingredients like fishmeal and fish oil. These ingredients provide essential proteins and omega-3 compounds, making them vital for comprehensive nutrition in a changing world.

In Europe, there will be an increased focus on contaminants such as PFAS in the coming years. EFFOP has already taken proactive steps to address these challenges. For instance, we have compiled a robust dataset from 175 distinct fishmeal batches. We have actively engaged with journalists, policymakers, scientists, and the public to promote a comprehensive understanding of PFAS contamination. This dataset will serve as a foundational resource for well-informed risk assessments and will aid in developing risk management strategies for future PFAS levels in feed. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with European authorities on this issue.

We would like to thank all the participants and speakers for attending the conference. We especially thank our Estonian member, Eesti Kalatootjate Keskühistu, for hosting this year’s event, and our president Odd Eliassen for his constructive cooperation. We are excited to announce that our next conference will be held in 2026 in Cuxhaven, Germany, hosted by our German member, Bioceval. As we look ahead, EFFOP remains committed to supporting European producers in navigating future challenges.

Read the full President Report and view more pictures from the conference below.