Latest Research

A core part of IFFO's work is to support and carry out research for industry. The most recent research papers are below:

When does fishing forage species affect their predators?

The paper was authored by Dr. Ray Hilborn, Dr. Ricardo O. Amoroso, and Dr. Eugenia Bogazzi from the University of Washington; Dr. Olaf P. Jensen from Rutgers University; Dr. Ana M. Parma from Center for the Study of Marine Systems -CONICET, Argentina; Dr. Cody Szuwalski from the University of California Santa Barbara; and Dr. Carl J. Walters from the University of British Columbia.


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, (2) the weak relationship between forage fish spawning stock size and recruitment and the role of environmental productivity regimes, (3) the size distribution of forage fish, their predators and subsequent size selective predation (4) the changes in spatial distribution of the forage fish as it influences the reproductive success of predators. We show that taking account of these factors generally tends to make the impact of fishing forage fish on their predators less than estimated from trophic models. We also explore the empirical relationship between forage fish abundance and predator abundance for a range of U.S. fisheries and show that there is little evidence for a strong connection between forage fish abundance and the rate of change in the abundance of their predators. We suggest that any evaluation of harvest policies for forage fish needs to include these issues, and that models tailored for individual species and ecosystems are needed to guide fisheries management policy.

Links to further information:

VIDEO: Leading Fisheries Scientists Challenge Lenfest Research that Recommended Cutting Catch of Forage Fish



University of Stirling Report on Future Availability of Raw Material, and Calculations of Fishmeal and Fish Oil Production over the next 5 and 10 years

An IFFO-funded study at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, led by Prof. Dave Little, has calculated estimates for the amount of fishmeal and fish oil that could be available from reduction fisheries, and fisheries and aquaculture by-products in 5 and 10 years’ time.  Estimates are based on FAO and IFFO data, and although hypothetical provide some interesting figures for how the global industry could develop.  Globally, approximately 20 million tonnes of raw material are used annually for fishmeal and fish oil production.  Whole fish comprises 14 million tonnes of this total, nearly 50% of which comes from South America.  By-product contributes 5.6 million tonnes (3.7 million tonnes from capture fisheries and 1.9 million tonnes from aquaculture).  Europe is a major contributor to capture fisheries by-product (1.2 million tonnes) and Asia to aquaculture by-product (0.8 million tonnes). 
Over the next 10 years, fishmeal production is estimated to grow 25-30% mainly as a result of increased raw material availability, mostly from byproduct.  Fish oil production is predicted to increase to a lower level (5-10%) over that period as a consequence of increasing proportion of by-products from white fish fisheries for example, and increasing contributions from freshwater aquaculture species that are often lower in oil content.  You can download the report for the study here.