Contribution to SGDs

One of the earliest and often quoted definitions of sustainability was that provided by the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development (known as the Bruntlandt Commission) in 1987, which stated: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  Although there have been other attempts to provide a definition since then, that is the most often quoted description that there is of sustainability.  In some format, IFFO has represented the international fishmeal and fish oil industry since 1959, and this statement reflects our approach since then, ensuring that the industry has continued to supply those high value nutritious ingredients that are so important for farmed animal growth and health over decades.


Climate Change

Although often regarded in purely environmental terms, it is important to recognise that within the global organisations community (e.g. UN, OECD, WTO) there is a consensus that there are three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental.  Those three pillars are often afforded equal, or near equal, importance, even though in fisheries and seafood industry discussions the environmental pillar appears to dominate.  It is clear that the social and economic components of sustainability are equally important to the fishmeal industry, and at IFFO we certainly recognise the essential contribution the industry makes to rural communities and their economies, as well as to global health and nutrition.  

As an industry that is reliant on the exploitation of a natural resource for its livelihood, the fishmeal and fish oil industry has more than a passing interest in ensuring that the resource on which it is dependent is available in coming years.  The bedrock of that approach is efficient and competent fisheries management, which obviously plays an important role in raw material availability in the present and in the future.  The increasing proportion of byproduct use in fishmeal and fish oil production also brings this resource into the discussion, and the connection to sustainability for this material is clear.  The contributions of these raw materials are changing subtly over time, and this is another aspect of the sustainability agenda that is worthy of consideration.  The use of byproducts in the manufacture of a high-value product such as fishmeal aligns well with the policies of organisations like the European Commission on Blue Growth and the Circular Economy, as well as that of the FAO.

Introduction to SDGs

The seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were proposed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 to meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing the world. The SDG’s built on the Millenium Development Goals from 2000 to tackle poverty and can be summarised in the following graphic.


This structure was agreed in 2015 and implemented in 2016.

The most directly linked SDG to our industry is no. 14, Life Under Water, although there are also connections to 2, 3, 8, 12 and 13. See below for more details.

Each SDG has been broken into a number of categories for action, a structure developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and agreed to, as a practical starting point at the 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission held in March 2016. In the case of SDG 14, there are ten individual targets[1] with corresponding indicators.

Member states and intergovernmental organisations are working on delivering these goals and are seeking commitments and support from the private sector. An example would be IFFO member Cargill’s commitment[2] and a UN Oceans Conference held in New York from 5th – 9th June 2017. Further events are expected e.g. Sustainable Oceans Summit in Halifax, Canada, from 29th November 2017.

This document is intended to give an overview of the SDG’s and opportunities for action.

Fish market boats

Relevance for IFFO members and the Marine Ingredients (MI) industry

The SDG’s are structured to allow specific commitments from stakeholders, with progress being against a common set of goals that allows comparison between different companies and other groups.

IFFO Members are already referencing the SDG’s. As well as the commitment by Cargill mentioned above, and their CSR report[3], the 2016 Nutreco Sustainability Report[4] has been restructured to adopt the SDG framework, allowing a better understanding of the company sustainability strategy.

With the increased competition from alternative feed ingredients, it is important that marine origin ingredients offer as many benefits to their users as possible. Demonstrating where MI’s are contributing to the sustainable development goals is an opportunity to add value and support customers in their own sustainability strategies. This should be seen as a base from which to consider further commitments.

The table in Appendix 1 takes each SDG and considers what contribution the Marine Ingredient industry might make. Contributions can be direct at the level of the MI industry, or indirect via the aquaculture sector given marine ingredients are an essential part of many aquaculture feeds.

Fish feeding

What are other fish sectors doing?

There is little public information on the websites of GAA, NFI or other trade bodies but as this cuts across all fishing and fish farming, there is a need for some joined up action. IFFO are exploring opportunities with partner organisations.

Further reading

The website https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs provides a summary of all SDG’s. By clicking on individual SDG tiles or icons, an update of progress, targets, indicators and review events is available.


Contribution from the Marine Ingredient industry

Potential Future Action


  • Production of MI’s are often in developing world economies, providing employment opportunities and income to local communities.
  • Small scale artisanal fishers contribute raw material
  • The aquaculture industry is a significant employer in developing countries, particularly in rural areas.
  • Review small scale and artisanal fishing and opportunities to increase responsible supply into MI production.


  • Protein from farmed fish is more efficient in feed use, freshwater use and land use than any land based animal or vegetable protein.  MI production converts good quality, well managed species lacking a market into feed for more desirable species.
  • Communicate benefits of farmed fish protein to national and international policy makers


  • The benefits of EPA and DHA long chain Omega 3 fats are well documented and are primarily found in fish oil.
  • Support further research into the benefits of Omega 3 fats.


Providing training courses and sharing information at Members Meetings and Conferences

  • Request IFFO members to invest in local education.


Contribution from the Marine Ingredient industry

Potential Future Action


  • Increasing volumes of raw material for MI’s are sourced from fish processing by-products. In developing world economies where automation is limited, fish processing is often performed by female labour, providing work opportunities.
  • Request IFFO members to commit to gender equality policy.


  • Effluent and process water from MI production is treated before returning to the environment.
  • Aquaculture is a lower user of freshwater than farming of terrestrial based protein.
  • Introduce targets for freshwater use reduction
  • Outreach to regions where water is restricted, supporting recirculating aquaculture


  • IFFO members in Iceland are using geothermal energy to generate electricity. Factories are powered by electricity instead of fossil fuel.
  • Set targets for renewable energy use.


  • Aquaculture provides stable and secure employment opportunities in rural / developing world economies.
  • The aquaculture industry is demonstrating steady growth year on year and is expected to continue to increase.
  • Promote good labour practices and conditions through public commitments and company policy.


Contribution from the Marine Ingredient industry

Potential Future Action


  • Production of fish protein from capture of culture is low in carbon compared to other terrestrial proteins.
  • Significant investment has been made to supplement sources of long chain Omega 3 fatty acids from algae, bacteria and crops.
  • Express investment in R&D as a percentage of turnover. Highlight infrastructure investment e.g. cold storage capacity, logistics and fishing fleets.


Local community projects supported by IFFO members e,g, TASA https://www.tasa.com.pe/sostenibilidad-gestion-social-en.html


Show work in developing countries e.g. IFFO / GAA project to improve fishing standards in Thailand and Vietnam.


Orientated towards local government



Member companies producing Sustainability Reports, detailing progress e.g. TASA https://www.tasa.com.pe/sostenibilidad-en-sustainability-report.html


Continued roll out of IFFO RS, investment in FIPs in SE Asia.



Contribution from the Marine Ingredient industry

Potential Future Action


Reductions  in energy use, carbon emissions

Continued reductions


Conserve and sustainably use marine resources. The main heading for our industry! Many examples of investing in science, commitment to responsible certification.

Further investment in management of low trophic level fisheries and multi-species tropical fisheries.


Orientated towards land farming and forestry

Not applicable


Work with NGO’s and civil society to raise environmental and social standards

Continued commitment



Contribution from the Marine Ingredient industry

Potential Future Action


  • Participate in Private Sector Mechanism at UN Committee on Food Security

Identify opportunities to work with other partners on pre-competitive issues.