July 2020 Update
The FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture was released last month. The 2020 SOFIA report focuses on “sustainability in action”, covering the sector’s main features as well as climate change adaptation, women’s contribution to the fishery sector, and emerging issues such as new technologies and aquaculture biosecurity.
It is widely acknowledged -throughout the whole value chain- that there is no alternative to sustainability and that programmes are needed to further improve fisheries and aquaculture. I can only praise the FAO for updating the way it presents the status of fish stocks and displaying the proportion of seafood that comes from sustainable fisheries vs. unsustainable fisheries. It turns out that by volume, 78.7% of marine fish comes from biologically sustainable fish populations.
This clear statistic will undoubtedly help focus on real issues: the 21.3% share (in volume) and the 34,2% share (in number) of fisheries that need improvement. There is a willingness to raise awareness on this challenge, which might be the first step towards positive change: awareness enables collective action and coordination.
This is precisely what is happening with certification programmes: efforts to coordinate on an ambitious – yet realistic- target are now visible: the new Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) Feed Mill Standard requires a minimum of 75 percent of marine ingredients to be from certified sources, or FIPs, from 2025. This target supports MarinTrust's efforts to get 75 percent of global marine ingredients, certified, in assessment or its Improver Programme by 2025. Target 75 is also the name of an initiative led by SFP, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. The marine conservation NGO is focused on ensuring 75% of world production in key sectors is – at a minimum – either sustainable (i.e., certified by the MSC programme, or green-listed in SFP’s Metrics tool) or making regular, verifiable improvements. Aquafeed standards help incentivise responsible fishery management. And it works: over 50% of all marine ingredients produced globally are now certified under the MarinTrust programme.
However, it is in all stakeholders’ interest to not only focus on the marine ingredient sector’s sustainability but to cast our eyes beyond our sector and also consider the sustainability of vegetable feed ingredients which are to complement fishmeal and fish oil in feeds. It is interesting to note that the new Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) Feed Mill Standard sets new ambitions in this field as well. It states that feed mills shall adopt preferential sourcing of responsibly produced soymeal and soy derivatives such that a minimum of 50% (calculation based on mass-balance) are derived from certified sources by June 2022. For all soy inputs, whether certified or not, feed mills shall set clear goals for: traceability to country of origin; verification of chains of custody; exclusion of material derived from illegal deforestation, and; exclusion of material derived from ecologically sensitive areas. After June 2022, if palm oil is used in feeds it shall be RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified.
The marine ingredient component of feed has been well scrutinised for decades, and as a result credible means of providing assurance has been developed, including third party certifications through the creation of the IFFO RS (now MarinTrust) programme back in 2009. However, if we are to achieve global sustainability successfully it requires a shared vision and collective action.
Sustainability is a shared ambition for us all in order to ensure both food safety and biodiversity now and in the long term!
Petter M Johannessen
IFFO Director General