Past projects

IFFO runs a series of projects on areas across the industry. Summaries of past projects are below:

IFFO & GAA: Driving change in South East Asian trawl fisheries, fishmeal supply, and aquafeed

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organisation held a joint-funded project which improves the understanding of the fisheries of South East Asia which supply raw material for fishmeal production. The report was produced by Duncan Leadbitter (Fish Matter Pty Ltd) after approximately 10 months of data gathering, using both publicly available information and in-country sources.



Provide assistance to fisheries with regard to assessment processes

IFFO RS could finalise its assessment system for multispecies fisheries and provide a pathway to approval as soon as possible. The RS system, via the Improver Program, is the key mechanism for involving industry in supporting improvements in fisheries management. The RS assessment system needs to ensure that it can also cover species diverse, tropical purse seine fisheries.

IFFO and GAA could facilitate the process for fisheries to engage in FIPs, be it by providing information on FIPs in general and on fishery assessments and fishery action plans more specifically, by coordinating contacts and improving communications among stakeholders, or maybe even the establishment of a source of funds aimed at providing assistance to fisheries that want to engage in FIPs.

Share knowledge

IFFO and GAA need to maintain an up-to-date appreciation of developments in the understanding and management of tropical multispecies fisheries. There is a considerable degree of interest in this area and there are links to developments in approaches to fisheries elsewhere in the world. GAA and IFFO could consider reviews of other countries that have similar fisheries that link to the farm shrimp industry. Examples include India, China and Bangladesh.

Develop further research

GAA and IFFO could consider outreach work to feed and other related sectors aimed at promoting formulated feeds as a mechanism for reducing the incidence of direct feeding of bycatch to species such as groupers, spiny lobsters, crabs, snakeheads etc. This would have both resource management and fish health benefits. GAA and IFFO could consider evaluating the purse seine fisheries as these are common but their contribution to the fishmeal sector is unknown beyond anecdotes. The structure of the industry and, especially the links with the food processing sector, is not well documented and a better understanding would be positive for industry development purposes but also important for understanding supply chains and traceability.

*Resource permitting

Click here to access the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership foreword to the report as well as the full report.

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. The paper shows 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. Taking account of these factors generally tends to make the impact of fishing forage fish on their predators less than estimated from trophic models. The paper also explores the empirical relationship between forage fish abundance and predator abundance for a range of U.S. fisheries and shows that there is little evidence for a strong connection between forage fish abundance and the rate of change in the abundance of their predators. It concludes 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:

Bulk Fishmeal Stability Trial: Providing data to amend the IMSBC code for bulk shipping

IFFO has successfully provided information that has helped to amend specific clauses in the IMO’s IMDG code, relevant to packaged goods. This provided information for the stabilization of fishmeal using tocopherols (250 ppm of residual levels at the time of consignment) and reduced levels of ethoxyquin (50 ppm instead of 100 ppm) at the of consignment, may be used on a voluntary basis from the 1st January 2019, and comes into the IMDG Code from 1st January 2020.  

However, the IMO has two shipping codes depending on the volume and the way the cargo is shipped:

  • IMDG: International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee. Dangerous Goods mean the substances, materials and articles covered by the IMDG Code. Packaged form means the form of containment specified in the IMDG Code.
  • IMSBC: International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) code adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee. Solid bulk cargo means any cargo, other than liquid or gas, consisting of a combination of particles, granules or any larger pieces of material generally uniform in composition, which is loaded directly into the cargo spaces of a ship without any intermediate form of containment.

Commencing April 2018 and running for 12 months, IFFO, Diamante Pesquera and TASA (the companies engaged in the project via the Sociedad Nacional de Pesquera, SNP) in Peru are continuing the work that had supplied information for the IMDG Code amendment, this time for the IMSBC Code, evaluating the use of natural antioxidant Tocopherol (with Rosemary extract) and lower levels of the synthetic antioxidant Ethoxyquin.


Study questions the sustainability of plant ingredients as fishmeal substitutes

Substituting fishmeal in aquaculture feeds with plant ingredients may not be as beneficial for the environment as many predict, according to new University of Stirling research. Manufacturers of commercial fish feed are increasingly substituting fishmeal – a powder made from fish – with crop-based ingredients in a move driven by economic incentives and a desire to improve the sustainability of aquafeed. While this approach is widely recognised as being more environmentally friendly, the new study from Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture challenges this popular theory.

An international, multidisciplinary team – led by PhD researcher Wesley Malcorps – researched the trade-offs between marine and terrestrial resources as a result of adopting this common practice in shrimp feeds. The researchers focused on the shrimp industry, as it is one of the dominant consumers of fishmeal in the aquaculture sector.

The research found that the substitution of fishmeal with plant ingredients merely moved pressures from finite marine resources to land-based food production systems, with environmental repercussions. The experts involved in the work are now calling for a “paradigm shift” in thinking around the relative sustainability of aquafeed ingredients.


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. The model shows an increasing availability of raw material from byproduct derived from aquaculture as that sector continues to grow, but also confirms an under-utilisation of byproduct from both fisheries and aquaculture at the current time.  As the total volume of raw material, and fishmeal and fish oil production increases, byproduct is predicted to provide an increasing proportion of the total.  

Europe currently uses proportionately more byproduct for fishmeal and fish oil production than other regions.  Asia, and China in particular, shows the most potential for future marine ingredient supply from under-utilised resources in both fisheries and aquaculture.  Fish oil is predicted to grow more slowly than fishmeal, as future contributions from aquaculture are likely to include increasing proportions of low-oil yield farmed freshwater species.  Logistical and practical difficulties account for the current under-utilisation of byproduct in marine ingredient production. This work was commissioned by IFFO in order to quantify the potential volume of future global raw material supply.

Download full report here