Don’t be shy about saying you use fishmeal: IFFO
THE fishmeal and fish oil sector uses fish for which there is no, or only limited, markets to produce fish that people do actually want to eat, said Dr Neil Auctherlonie, technical director of IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organisation.
Fishmeal production annually is five million tonnes and fish oil is one million tonnes and that’s been pretty stable for the last two decades.
‘That reflects improvements in fishery management practices – so it might be a finite supply but it’s constant,’ said Auchterlonie.
Two thirds comes from whole fish and one third is from wild by-products and farmed by-products.
‘The market decides where the fish go – if the market is willing to pay for raw materials to eat then the fish will go into that market, but if it isn’t then the fish will go into making fishmeal and fish oil.’
He cited the example of blue whiting and the Nigerian economy. If the Nigerian economy is strong, Nigerians are in the market for blue whiting fillets.
But if the economy is not doing well and demand drops, and the food market can’t pay for those fish, then the blue whiting will go into fishmeal.
There is a trend towards more fish going into food markets, so more by-products are being used in fishmeal, said Auchterlonie.
Because aquaculture by-products are used in feed, as aquaculture grows there will be more raw materials available.
There are about 3.2 million tonnes of fishmeal and about .76 million tonnes of fish oil producing more than 44 million tonnes of fed farmed fish.
Farmed shrimp are the largest users of fishmeal and farmed salmonids the largest users of fish oil – because EPA and DHA are fundamentally important to salmonids.
As for trout inclusion rates, trout globally accounts for 3.9 per cent of fishmeal and 5.36 per cent of fish oil of total volume of marine ingredients produced annually.
The substitution of fishmeal and fish oil in trout diets commenced before salmon and the reason for that was cost.
There were high inclusions historically – (1981) hatchery diets of 45 to 50 per cent fishmeal, five to 15 per cent fish oil, and (grow-out) 25 to 30 per cent fishmeal and five to 15 per cent fish oil.
But contemporary estimates are 10 to 30 per cent fishmeal and three to eight per cent fish oil (Auchterlonie said he was sceptical about the figures because he thinks they are a bit high, and the low end of the range is more likely).
Trout have lower requirements for omega-3 and the requirement varies between whether they are marine or freshwater.
As with salmon, the omega-3 levels have been declining over time and have been replaced by omega-6, and the consequences of this, in terms of fish robustness, were being investigated by researchers.
Auchterlonie told the feed companies: ‘Don’t be shy about saying you use fishmeal, it’s not a bad thing; in fact, it’s a good thing.’