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Annual production of fishmeal and fish oil – from fisheries sources - is 5 million tons and 1 million tons respectively. An additional 1.25 million tons of fish meal and fish oil is now produced from the by-products of fish processing. Today, for aquafeed manufacture, aquaculture takes 71% of the total fish oil supply and 73% of the total fish meal supply (the majority of these going to salmon, marine fish and shrimp). (see IFFO document)
Aquafeeds have been seriously improved in terms of formulation, ingredient sourcing and technology, leading to very high rates of feed use efficiency. In the 1980s, the FCR  was as high as 6, whereas today the most efficient feeds give a FCR of less than 1! As a comparison, in the wild, fish consume approximately 10kg for 1kg production.
A lot of focus has also been put on replacement of fish oil/meal by vegetable and other sources. Today the use of fish meal and oil in trout and salmon diets has decreased below 20% incorporation and is forecast to further lower to less than 10% by 2020 (Tacon and Metian , 2008).

Explaining FIFO
The simplest approach to define FIFO is a calculation of the kg of wild fish used to produce one kg of farmed fish.
The main factors are:

  • The quantity of fish meal and fish oil obtained from wild fish
  • The amounts of fish meal and fish oil included in the feeds
  • The feed conversion ratio measured to produce harvestable fish

However, this simple formula excludes

  • The use of excess fishmeal, which remains after feed formulation 
  • The use of waste products recovered after processing; as the market grows for fillets, some 60% of the fish by weight is available for treatment

Calculations using this simplified approach will result in a FIFO ratio of 4, since fish oil is the limiting factor. FEAP believes that the most representative calculations follow the nutrients that are transferred into highly nutritious, consumable products rather than a simple live weight comparison. Forage fish (used to produce fishmeal and oil) simply do not contain the same nutrient profile as, for example, salmon, trout and seabass.
This is best represented by the Dependency Ratios (DR) for marine protein and oil used compared to the nutritionally valuable protein and fat produced. This calculation gives more realistic and balanced ratios, 1.2 for protein and 1.1 for oil.

Building further upon this approach, one should also incorporate the issue of recovering and using waste materials, since more and more fish are filleted and processed where off cuts can recycled into valuable protein and oil.  These materials cannot be fed back to the same species but can be used in feeds for other species. Therefore, if one takes the use of these waste products into account, a 48% improvement in overall food production is obtained.
This position makes aquaculture the most efficient producer of food when compared to other livestock activities.

In the last decade major improvements have been achieved in different aspects of aquaculture management and specifically in respect of feed formulation and efficiency. Key progress has been made in identifying and using alternative raw materials for compound fish feeds and ongoing research gives optimism for further progress of this aspect.
The anticipated dependency on fish oil as a limiting factor for aquaculture development is lower than previously anticipated, while its use remains essential for guaranteeing the final nutritional quality of farmed fish.
Continued efficiency in the recovery of both proteins and oils from raw fish materials that are produced in processing makes a significant and safe contribution to this progress.
Within the recent CFP proposals for the European fisheries sector is the requirement to eliminate discards from fishing activities. FEAP strongly supports this position and also puts forward the option that such materials that are landed and which cannot be used for human consumption should also be used so as to improve the ingredient supply sector and support the continued growth of European aquaculture.

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IFFO  Download (480,502 kb)
current issues on use of fishmeal and fishoil for aquaculture
Kaushik  Download (582,286 kb)
presentation for EP on FIFO & carbon footprint
Tacon and Metian  Download (1,621575 Mb)
Use of fishmeal and fishoil in aquafeeds

The use of fishmeal and fishoil in trout and salmon diets has decreased to less than 20% incorporation today and will continue to reduce in the future