Knowledge Hub

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.

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Updated Fish in: Fish Out (FIFO) ratios

FIFOs (Fish In:Fish Out ratios) have been examined over time as a way to look at the performance of aquaculture in relation to the wild fish that are utilised in feed. Although there are some issues with the applicability of the concept, FIFO is still regarded by some as a benchmark of progress by the sector in relation to its environmental performance. With this in mind, IFFO has updated the FIFO estimates using the data we have available for 2015, following the same protocol that was applied to determine the FIFO figures for 2000 and 2010.

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New IFFO and SNP factsheet on Peruvian Anchovy

IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation, and Peru’s National Fisheries Society (SNP) have developed a factsheet covering the main issues in this complex subject, as an aid to understanding the reasons why the market is the way it is. The factsheet looks at Peru’s historic uses of fish, past initiatives and new projects to increase direct human consumption. It concludes by noting that after millions being spent by both the Government and the private sector, direct human consumption remains very low due to a lack of interest and uptake; but the use of anchovy in feed supports global protein production and is an extremely efficient way to contribute to global food security.   

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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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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.  The source fisheries are amongst the best managed globally, and these are naturally renewable resources that support global protein production.  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. 


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.


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).