Marine Resources and Sustainability
The raw materials used for production of fishmeal and fish oil are fresh marine fish and recycled trimmings from fish processing for human consumption.
Fishmeal and fish oil can be produced from whole fish, fish cut-offs or other fish by-products, such as heads, tails, bones and other offal resulting from processing. Fishmeal and fish oil originating from whole fish are produced from species caught in the wild. The species used are mainly short-lived species with no or little commercial value as human consumption, such as sandeel, blue-whiting and capelin.
All fisheries are managed and controlled by Government organizations. TACs (Total Allowable Catches) are decided by national governments on the basis of scientific advice given for each stock on a yearly bases. The stock assessments ensure that the exploitation of living marine resources is sustainable. For the migrating stocks, TACs are agreed upon by coastal states.
For short-lived species advice is given on the basis of an escapement strategy, setting a reference point for the biomass that ensures that a stock is retained that is sufficient for successful recruitment and which can also provide an adequate resource for predators.
All members of European Fishmeal support and implement the FAO code of conduct for responsible fisheries: http://www.fao.org/fishery/code/en
The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 14 estimates that sustained demand and high prices are expected to lead to more fishmeal and fish oil to be produced from fish waste and by-products obtained from the processing of fish into fillets, portions and similar forms. In 2023, fishmeal obtained from by-products is expected reach 36% of total production in 2023, up from 28% in 2011-13. For fish oil, this share could reach 41% of total production, compared with 33% in 2011-13. The use of fish by-products can affect the composition and quality of the resulting fishmeal/fish oil, because they contain, in general, less protein, more ash (minerals) and increased levels of small amino acids (such as glycine, proline, hydroxyproline) compared to fishmeal and fish oil obtained from whole fish.
“The CFOOD project is made up of a network of scientists whose mission has evolved out of frustration with erroneous stories about fisheries sustainability that continue to appear in mainstream media.”
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