The need to provide marine ingredients such as fishmeal and fish oil as feed for farmed fish is seen as a challenge to the growth of the aquaculture sector. This is because the amount of fish that can be produced annually from the world is finite.
Fishmeal is a brown flour obtained after cooking, pressing, drying and milling whole fish and fish trimmings. It is key ingredient for most finfish requiring feed.
Fishmeal and fish oil can be produced from whole fish, fish trimmings or other fish processing by-products. When prepared from whole fish, fishmeal is made almost exclusively using small pelagic species. These live in the surface or middle waters of the sea.
Fishmeal production also offers the seafood industry a unique opportunity. This is for recycling the otherwise unusable trimmings discarded by the seafood processing sector. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) State of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report 2020 confirms this. It states a growing share of fishmeal and fish oil, estimated at 25–35%, is produced from the by-products of fish processing. Previously this was often discarded or used as direct feed, in silage or in fertilizers. The report also states that regional differences exist. For example, by-product use in Europe was estimated at a comparatively high proportion of 54% of total production.
Fishmeal and fish oil are still considered the most nutritious and most digestible ingredients for farmed fish. They are also the major source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, their inclusion rates in compound feeds for aquaculture have shown a clear downward trend. As feed companies continue to develop their aquaculture feed formulations the inclusion of marine ingredients will carry on decreasing.
More information about fishmeal and fish oil can be found at IFFO The Marine Ingredients Organisation.
Facts and figures
- Fishmeal and fish oil facts and figures. March 2018.
- Seafish Insight: fishmeal production and trends. Source: FAO SOFIA 2018. November 2018.
Monthly news reports