Knowledge Centre

Plastics and Microplastics in the Ocean Environment

The topic of plastic in the marine environment is rapidly gaining traction in the global media.  There is a general recognition that plastics are a problem, and the subject carries with it several points of interest that capture the audience’s attention: human impact on the marine environment, pollution, harm to wildlife, and possible impact on marine food chains and potential contamination in food. This latter issue is potentially the most powerful...

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When does fishing forage species affect their predators?

This paper explores the impact of fishing low trophic level “forage” species on higher trophic level marine predators including other fish, birds and marine mammals. We show that existing analyses using trophic models have generally ignored a number of important factors including (1) the high level of natural variability of forage fish....

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IFFO Responds to The Huffington Post Blog 'Can We Go On Farming Salmon?'

IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation represents the global fishmeal and fish oil industry.  We regularly represent the industry at international fora, as well as holding observer status at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the EU Commission and Parliament.  Our remit covers some of the points addressed in the blog, i.e. those that relate to the feeding of farmed salmon...

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Raw Material

Good quality raw material is fundamental to the production of high quality fishmeal and fish oil.  Raw material comes from capture fisheries (generally small, pelagic fish species) and, increasingly, byproduct such as fish trimmings from the processing sector.  Many of the criticisms of the management of stocks are unfounded as the source fisheries are amongst the best managed globally, and these are naturally renewable resources that support global protein production.  This is a function of the fast growth, high productivity and high levels of recruitment often seen in these fish populations, where, often the biggest influence on stock variability is environmental conditions (rather than fishing pressure).  Often there are no direct human consumption markets for these species, and they support production of protein for which there is a very real demand, as well as fish oil which is used directly to achieve benefits for human and animal health.  



The processing of raw material for fishmeal and fish oil production essentially follows a cooking, pressing, extraction and drying cycle that separates out the fishmeal and fish oil, producing only steam as a byproduct.  In effect, a product that incorporates all of the raw material other than a major fraction of the water it contained is produced.  Processing follows strict quality management procedures to ensure that end product parameters are within recognised ranges for nutrients and contaminants.  The process is highly technical in order to retain the nutrient qualities that are found in the raw material as far as possible, and ensure that these are transferred to the end products of fishmeal and fish oil.


Usage / Destination

Fishmeal and fish oil are key components of feeds for fish species (including crustaceans such as shrimp) in aquaculture, as well as pig and poultry feeds.  They are also recognised as having particular nutritional advantages in petfoods and increasingly are used in these markets.  Fishmeal and fish oil are not just suppliers of crude protein and energy in the diet, although they achieve both in great measure.  The presence of numerous important micronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. EPA and DHA), amino acids, particular vitamins such as the B-group and vitamin D, and some key minerals (e.g. Na, K, and Se) are also considered to be important for physiology, growth and health.  For some of the major farmed fish species such as salmon, trout, seabass, and turbot, the nutrients present approach the content of the wild diet, and therefore also support the quality of the end product. 


Global Food Security

Fishmeal and fish oil are the foundations of modern fed aquaculture.  Early feeds had a very high inclusion of marine ingredients, which by meeting the nutritional needs of the early farmed species allowed the industry to develop.  Aquaculture has been the fastest growing protein sector for several decades and as it has grown over time feed composition has altered as a reflection of finite availability of the materials.  Rather than the commodities that they were regarded as in the early days, fishmeal and fish oil are now seen as strategic ingredients, their use in feeds varying proportionately with the nutritional advantage they may be able to confer at key life cycle stages in production (e.g. hatcheries, broodstock).  Similarly, in pig and poultry nutrition they are used to provide a boost to juvenile animals that will maintain benefits throughout the production cycle.  Global fed aquaculture production in 2015 was estimated at approximately 41 million tonnes.  Pork production was 117 million tonnes, and poultry (chicken) was 116 million tonnes.  Fishmeal and fish oil plays a crucial role in supporting this production, thereby making a significant contribution to global food security.


Latest Projects

IFFO is an evidence-based organisation, and scientific data and information is important in informing sustainable practices throughout the industry.  IFFO invests in science with a long-term view on the sector’s development, and uses the information generated to make policy decisions and inform dialogue with government departments, agencies, NGOs, and other international representative bodies.  IFFO is also interested in working collaboratively with other parties on science projects, and if you are interested in partnering with us please make contact via: .