Benefits of Fishmeal and Fish Oil Use

Aquaculture DHA
Fishmeal and fish oil provide feedstuffs for farmed fish and crustaceans. Their use in aquaculture effectively returns an otherwise unusable yet sustainable product back into the human food chain (See FIN Dossier 2012) . The addition of fishmeal to animal diets increases feed efficiency and growth through better food palatability, enhance of nutrient uptake and absorption. No farmed fish species or their trimmings are used to produce aquaculture grade fishmeal and fish oil for the same species - there is no intra-species recycling.

Fishmeal of high quality provides a balanced amount of all essential amino acids, minerals, phospholipids and fatty acids (e.g. Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) for optimum development, growth and reproduction, especially of larvae and brood stock. The nutrients in fishmeal also aid in disease resistance by boosting and helping to maintain a healthy functional immune system.

Incorporation of fishmeal into diets of aquatic animals helps to reduce pollution from the wastewater effluent by providing greater nutrient digestibility. The incorporation of high-quality fishmeal into feed imparts a 'natural or wholesome' characteristic to the final product, such as that provided by wild fish.

Land Animal Nutrition and Health
FishmealFishmeal and fish oil improve animal health and welfare ensuring high quality livestock especially in young and breeding animals. Fishmeal is a natural ingredient of high nutritional value, and its use in livestock feeds can offer cost-effective production, optimising health or meat quality in the final product.

Fishmeal provides a concentrated source of high quality protein and fat (5-12%) rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are deposited in the meat, eggs etc. of animals when they are used as supplements in their feeds. Incorporation of DHA and EPA found in fishmeal into the diets of fish and other farm animals is an efficient method to ensure a proper concentration of these important omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet.

Its high nutrient concentration gives it a special advantage as a supplement in high nutrient dense starter diets for poultry and for early weaned pigs.  The lipids in fishmeal and fish oil are easily digested by all animals, especially fish, shrimp, poultry, pigs, and ruminants such as cows, sheep, and goats. In these animals the lipid digestibility is 90% or greater. The high digestibility of fish lipids means they can provide lots of usable energy.

Feeding fishmeal/fish oil has been shown to have the following advantages for animal health, welfare and productivity:

  • Improved immunity greater disease resistance and reduced impact of disease (if contracted).
  • Reduced mortality in younger animals, particularly lambs and piglets.
  • Reduce severity of inflammatory diseases (EPA and DHA are anti-inflammatory).
  • Provide a wide range of essential nutrients, many of which are not provided adequately from vegetable materials, thus improving the animal's nutritional status.
  • Improved productivity through better growth and feed conversion, thereby reducing the cost of animal production (although feed cost in some cases may increase slightly, this is offset by the reduced unit cost of producing the animal).


*Note: Fish oil can be used as an alternative source of EPA and DHA for all land animals in the absence of fishmeal.

Human Health and Nutrition Omega 3 Capsules
Oily fish are the major source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are now recognised world-wide as a key factor in human health. A major part of the oily fish caught is inedible. Thanks to fishmeal and fish oil production, EPA and DHA contained in these fish can be returned to the human food chain via fish oil supplements, as well as via farmed fish and even livestock. This is equivalent to almost half of all the EPA and DHA provided by human consumption of wild edible fish.

Fish Oil and Human Health
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids - EPA and DHA. These have been the subject of numerous studies showing they confer several health benefits which are well documented (see table below)

Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant women because these essential fats are key to foetal brain development and could help with the prevention and treatment of postpartum depression. It also has been shown to be beneficial for development of babies/infants - especially for the nervous system including brain and eyes.

If you want to see a video about the use of fish oil on people with traumatic brain injury click here

Source: ‘What is so healthy about Seafood?’ Australian Government, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
*JAMA and Archives Journals (2010, February 2). Fish oil may reduce the risk of psychotic disorders in high-risk individuals, ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://bit.ly/cXPc0X