Nordic Centre of Excellence Network in Fishmeal and Fish oil


Due to changes in markets and demands, there is an urgent need for improved knowledge about the nutritional value of fishmeal and oil and how to increase their value within the fish feed industry. To facilitate and strengthen the Nordic cooperation and bioeconomy, a Nordic Centre of Excellence in Fishmeal and Fish oil was established in 2018 with support from the Nordic Council of Ministers.

A project workshop took place the 14-15 November 2018 in Copenhagen – for information about the workshop and programme please click here

The project report is available for download click here

The Nordic countries have played a leading role in providing healthy and safe products for human consumption from marine resources and it is important for the Nordic bioeconomy as a whole that this status is maintained. The research and innovation proposed by this Network Centre of Excellence is based on a sustainable bioeconomical approach within and across industry sectors, promoting interdisciplinary cooperation to enhance the Nordic economy. Its establishment is also in line with messages from the Fishmeal and Fish Oil Symposium organised in Hirtshals, Denmark from 29th-30th August 2016, see below.

Fishmeal and fish oil production play an important role in the Nordic countries. However, production has been static the last decade, while the world’s protein and oil demand has increased drastically, along with ever-increasing public demand for improved sustainability and increased use of marine and terrestrial animal by-products. The quality of fishmeal and oils depends very much on the properties of the raw material used. The fish species, ocean conditions (temperature, pollution, feed, other species) where the fish was caught, seasonal effects and preservation methods are raw material parameters that influence the processing, yield and nutritional quality of these products. Changes in market demands for alternative protein and oil sources both for human and animal consumption, as well as increased competition from fishmeal and oil substitutes (e.g. plant, yeast, algae and insect ingredients) call for improved knowledge and optimized processes and methods in the fishmeal industry in order to increase the nutritional and economical value of their products. This will benefit the entire value chain – fishery, industry, coastal regions and consumers and increase the export revenues of the industry. The price of fishmeal decreased from approximately 2,400 USD per tonne in June 2014 to 1,100 USD per tonne in June 2017, while the use of soy meal for animal feed increased at the expense of fishmeal. The price of starter feed with the right chemical and nutritional composition is currently around 3,000-5,000 USD per tonne, and prices for proteins for human consumption may reach 7,000 USD or even more. So there are many good reasons to optimize the processing methods and product quality of the Nordic industry and adapt them to a changed market atmosphere.

On 29-30 August 2016, 100 participants took part in a Symposium on “Perspectives for Fish Meal and Fish Oil in light of the management of forage fisheries, alternative uses of fishmeal and the development of new feeds and technologies”. The aim of the Symposium was to bring stakeholders together to discuss trends, challenges and opportunities for the fish meal and fish oil value chain.

Some of the things highlighted by the Symposium were:

  • There is a need to cooperate with the fishermen with a view to ensuring that information and data are collected to improve stock assessments.
  • Pelagic stocks are generally more vulnerable than demersal stocks, so particular attention is needed in stock assessments. In this respect, good and solid scientific advice is important for the stability and planning horizon of the industry.
  • Rest raw material from food grade fish processing is an important and growing raw material source for the industry
  • Perceptions about the fishmeal and fish oil value chain are often skewed and the industry needs to develop a communication strategy that can address this. Basically, the industry noted that it had not been good at explaining the sector to a wider audience.
  • A network, such as the one created by hosting the Symposium, is central to improve communication among stakeholders.
  • There is a need to advance the research agenda throughout the value chain i.e. from forage fishing (e.g. gear technologies that minimize the impact on ecosystems) at one end of the value chain to better understand the nutritional importance of the fishmeal and fish oil inclusion rates in aquaculture diets and fully understand the unique nutritional qualities of fishmeal and fish oil.
  • Concerted action in exploration of the great potentials of mesopelagic fish stocks as future raw material for the pelagic industry is needed among all stakeholders, while caution should be exercised with such development.
  • It was suggested that the Nordic regions might collaborate more intensely with a view to reducing the overall burden of research costs.

The Symposium participants highlighted the usefulness of having started a process but that the process needed to be followed up. In this regard, it was suggested that a platform could be developed which would provide a tool to communicate latest research and general news about the fishmeal and fish oil value chain.

The overall objective of this Network of Excellence is to continue the valuable cooperation launched by the Symposium. The work will meet the needs and demands concluded by the Symposium through a literature study and creation of a road map for future industry driven research in the field.

For more information, please contact European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers, click here.