Fish Feed

Anchoveta fishery (Credit: NOAA)

Sustainable use of fish feed in aquaculture means we want to be adding more seafood to the global food supply through farming than the amount of wild fish it takes to feed the farmed fish.

Is that a carnivore on your plate?

Many farmed fish are fish-eaters themselves. These carnivores  require high amounts of wild fish to feed them. Every year, millions of tonnes of wild fish – such as  sardines and anchovies – are caught and processed into fishmeal and fish oil for farm-raised species.

Farming fish like salmon and tuna uses up more wild fish in their feeds than farmed fish produced. For example, farmed tuna can use up to 20 kilograms of wild fish per kilogram produced. This is called the  Fish In – Fish Out Ratio (FI:FO). Farmed tuna has a staggering FI:FO of 20:1. This translates into an overall protein loss from our marine ecosystems and global food supply.

  • Avoid farmed salmon and ranched tuna. It takes huge amounts of fishmeal and fish oil to raise salmon in farms.
  • Choose vegetarian fish such as catfish and tilapia. These farmed fish don’t rely on our oceans for their food.
  • Choose farmed shellfish: oysters, clams, mussels and scallops. Shellfish filter tiny plankton out of the water and need no supplemental feeding.
  • Filtering for the Better Options: Many species of farmed seafood can be raised on diets that require  very limited amounts of fish feed or none at all. Non-fish eaters such as catfish and tilapia can be raised on plant-based diets. Shellfish (such as mussels and oysters) are another good option. Shellfish feed by filtering particles out of the water and can be easily farmed in clean water where they collect their own food and don’t require supplemental feed.
  • Alternative Feed Innovation: Many feed manufactures are investing in the development of alternative feeds in part due to the high cost and limited availability of fishmeal and fish oil. Potential alternatives include insect feed, soy, grains, yeast, other plant proteins, single-cell proteins, algae and by-products from seafood and livestock processing.
  • Waste Not Want Not: Commercial fisheries of dinner plate-destined fish typically discard fish waste or “fish trimmings” during processing.  Instead of wasting these fish trimmings, utilizing them for fish meal instead reduce help alleviate some pressure on our oceans.