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

Response to The Huffington Post: Blog by Sue Cross on the 10th February 2017 “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.

Having spent many years in Scottish Aquaculture, the description you provide of a Salmon farm is unlike any farm I have ever seen in my career and I would question if it exists. No commercial farm would be allowed, or could sustain, operation like this. The information presented on fishmeal production completely misses the point that the (fishmeal) industry is highly regulated, heavily engaged with sustainability agenda, and is a sector where annual volumes of certification of the product is at a high level relative to other feed ingredients.  The global annual production is relatively stable at approximately 5 million tonnes of fishmeal and 1 million tonnes of fish oil, outside of years where El Nino events occur in the South Pacific.  Our industry is engaged with the fish farming sector and NGOs to raise standards and communicate to consumers which are the better choices available.

Your reference to there being no wild fish left by 2048 is based on a 2006 paper that the lead author (Boris Worm) later complained was misrepresented to grab headlines. The extrapolation projected catches in the last century forward to 2048 and did not take into account improving fishery science and management regimes that are now restoring many major fishery stocks[1].

Fishmeal and fish oil are vital feed ingredients used in the production of pig, poultry and fish.  They are therefore central to the production of protein across the world, and global food security with its implications for humanity in the 21st Century.  The small pelagic fish species used for fishmeal and fish oil production typically do not have direct human consumption markets, and the harvesting of these fisheries supports the economies of coastal communities in countries across the world. Because the fisheries are pelagic, any impact of fishing operations on marine habitat is negligible, and bycatch is often very low.  Often the fisheries operate through stock management approaches based on science, including the setting of annual or seasonal quotas.  As well as whole fish used in the production of fishmeal and fish oil, byproducts from the seafood processing sector are also used, and IFFO estimates that approximately 35% of fishmeal and fish oil is produced from this raw material currently with efforts being made to further increase this percentage.

The reference in the text to a shortage of anchovies and the implication that this is a direct result of overfishing and the growth of aquaculture is a completely false statement.  The opposite is actually true as the “shortage” has been the result of careful fishery management.

The Peruvian anchovy is the most important of anchovy species for the production of fishmeal and fish oil globally.  Stocks of Peruvian anchovy fluctuate according to environmental conditions and these are taken into account in the stock management process undertaken by the Peruvian government.  El Nino events, in particular, can affect stock, and it appears that environmental conditions may have more impact on stock populations than the level of fishing effort.

Aquaculture is a growing industry, and that growth is essential to meet the protein requirements of a growing human population.  The volume of fish oil produced annually is finite.  Aquaculture growth has been facilitated through a reduction in the feed content of fish oil.

If you need any further information on responsible sourcing of marine ingredients, please get in touch or see our website at: www.iffo.net.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Auchterlonie

Technical Director

Friday, February 17, 2017