Andrew Mallison, Director General of IFFO. (Photo: IFFO)
IFFO responds to National Geographic article
Friday, February 09, 2018, 02:10 (GMT + 9)
Andrew Mallison, Director General of IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation, responded to an article published in National Geographic which argues that if salmon are fed with insects, instead of fish, this benefits the environment.
The article, titled Why Salmon Eating Insects Instead of Fish Is Better for Environment, discusses fishmeal and fish oil replacement in salmon feed by a Netherlands based company, but, according to Mallison, gives incorrect and old information.
The IFFO director says that though they agree with the need for additional feed options in aquaculture, to ensure the growth of this vital industry, they consider that the total replacement of fishmeal and fish oil, as called for in this article, is “unjustified and damaging to the fish farming industry.”
The article also labels the practice of feeding fish to fish as both inefficient and unsustainable. Mallison objects this affirmation, and explains that if responsibly sourced and used strategically, fishmeal and fish oil are both an efficient and sustainable feed choice.
“The growing management of wild capture fisheries has ensured that in recent years stocks are steady and not declining (report by FAO about the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016), Mallison reports in his letter. “While catches of some small pelagic species used to produce fishmeal and fish oil are volatile, this is due to environmental fluctuation with permitted catches being varied in line with biomass abundance to protect the stocks,” he adds.
He adds that further evidence of sustainability in the production of marine ingredients is that, over 45 percent of the global production of fishmeal and fish oil is now independently certified as being safe and environmentally responsible- including in its sourcing of raw materials- “a figure that far exceeds any other source of feed ingredient.”
As regards the efficiency of the use of fishmeal and fish oil, Mallison remembers that the latest FIFO (Fish In:Fish Out ratios) show a conversion rate of 1kg of wild fish used in feed creates 1.22 kg of farmed salmon, which “clearly demonstrates that farmed salmon produce globally more consumable protein than is used in feed.”
In that sense, he highlights that his ratio is significantly lower than the out-of-date figures quoted in the article, and shows how fishmeal and fish oil are now being more strategically used at key points in aquaculture production cycles with a trend towards optimising their nutritional contributions.
On the other hand, Mallison points out that the production of marine ingredients like fishmeal and fish oil do not require the same levels of fresh water for irrigation, treatment with agricultural chemicals -such as fertilisers and pesticides-, or use land needed to grow crops.
While he recognizes that insect meal may be a theoretical alternative, he explains that the production of the millions of tonnes needed to replace fishmeal is currently not viable right now.
“When it is clear that the amount of fishmeal and fish oil is not sufficient to meet the growing demand for feed manufacture and, in the best interests of the fish farming industry, the raw material sources for feed should be maximised, it makes little sense to exclude these valuable, responsibly sourced and highly effective ingredients. Although it is not such a punchy selling message, the reality is that there is an opportunity for alternative ingredients like insect meal without needing to displace fishmeal,” the letter concludes.