Use of fishmeal and fish oil reduces carbon footprint of farmed fish


Written by Anne Mette Bæk

Substituting plant-based feed ingredients in fish feed with marine ingredients, such as fishmeal and fish oil, can reduce the carbon footprint from farmed fish.

This is highlighted in a new study from the Norwegian independent research institute SINTEF, which has recently analyzed and compared greenhouse gas emissions of different types of seafood and land based food in Norway.

The significant land use, transport and production requirements of plant-based ingredients lead to increasing greenhouse gas emissions for farmed fish when the feed is increasingly based on plant ingredients.

– During the last 10 years there has been a change in the diet of farmed fish towards a feed consisting of almost 70 percent plant-based. That is a development that is not necessarily great from a climate perspective, if it means replacing marine ingredients with Brazilian soy. Changing the composition of the ingredients in the feed has the largest potential to reduce the carbon footprint of farmed salon, says Ulf Winther, special advisor from SINTEF.

As follows from the figure below, farmed salmon is producing the lowest green house gas emissions together with chicken, while pork has around 50% higher emissions and beef 5 times the relative amount. The wild caught fish have the lowest footprints, and especially the pelagic fish, constituting the base for fishmeal and oil, have a very low relative emission level. The more marine ingredients in the feed for the farmed salmon the lower the footprint.

These conclusions are very relevant and feed well into the ongoing discussion of replacing marine ingredients in fishfeed with plant based ingredients .

We believe that combining these results with other studies showing an increase in animal welfare, fitness, survival and quality in the farmed fish when using a larger share of marine ingredients in feed prove that the trend of not using marine ingredients in fish feed should be stopped.

In the wild, fish eat fish and it is only natural that their feed should contain marine ingredients.

On top of being beneficial for the fish, their welfare and health, the nutritional value of the fish reaching the consumer, now also has a reduced carbon footprint compared to a plant-based diet.

You can read the full report from SINTEF here (in Norweigan)