IFFO Responds to the Changing Markets Report


IFFO is aware of the recent publication of the report “Until the seas run dry: How industrial aquaculture is plundering the ocean” by the Changing Markets Foundation.

As IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation, is referred to specifically in the text, we as a body thought it important to respond and set out some of the facts.

“While the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) report on Reduction Fisheries published in 2018 outlines that 91% of the major stocks under analysis in the report were “reasonably-well managed, or better”, IFFO is disappointed to read an inaccurate document which ignores the facts and realities of the fishmeal and fish oil sector. The majority of wild-caught fish is responsibly sourced and is an essential resource in support of global protein production. Moreover the use of trimmings and byproduct from seafood processing represents at least 33% of total world fishmeal production, that would otherwise predominantly go to landfill. IFFO rebuts the allegations contained in this report and provides a full analysis on its website www.iffo.net.says Petter Martin Johannessen, IFFO Director General. 

1. IFFO RS Ltd., is a separate entity to IFFO. It is the standard holder for the IFFO RS standard which was developed through a multi-stakeholder forum that includes NGOs. It ensures independent certification of the scheme via third party inspection and accreditation to internationally recognized standards such as ISO 17065.  This is further endorsed through IFFO RS’s Membership of ISEAL, the global membership association for credible sustainability standards. 

2. Calls to remove fishmeal from animal feeds ignore the availability of responsibly sourced raw material as an essential resource in support of global protein production.  Global aquaculture converts this resource into edible protein that shows a very marked multiplier effect, where approximately 5 million tonnes of fishmeal every year contributes to approximately 23 million tonnes of aquaculture, as well as several million tonnes of pork and poultry, not to mention all the pets and human beings that also benefit from the consumption of other products including omega-3 oils.

3. Although as a reflection of the total volume of supply these are minor volumes, IFFO is aware that there are some regions of the world where there may still be challenges in the responsible sourcing of material for fishmeal and fish oil production and support positive change. IFFO regularly funds projects (along with another global not-for-profit organisation) to look at the situation on the ground and see where positive change may be made. One way the industry can support those positive changes is actually via the IFFO RS scheme, which, through its Improver Programme, presents a realistic and accessible system that permits local producers to work together to improve effective management of fish stocks. 

4. A more optimal and effective utilisation of key nutritional products has supported increasing farmed fish growth over time. As the feed companies have managed - out of necessity - to make the supply of fishmeal and fish oil go further as more aquafeed is required, they are surely to be applauded in their efforts which have occurred at considerable cost to their own businesses.   


Comments related to recommendations from the report:

1. Why should the aquafeed industry stop using wild-caught fish when the majority of this material is responsibly-sourced?  Neglecting what is an important, renewable, natural resource for food production will have major implications for global food production and security. 

2. To request that the aquaculture industry focus on species that do not require feed, or species that may utilise a vegetarian diet ignores the realities of the economics of aquaculture whereby the industry is only effective when it produces a product for which there is an actual market for the fish that people want to eat. Moreover, 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 fertilizers and pesticides, or use land needed to grow crops.

3. The next set of recommendations for certification schemes ignore the fact that ecologically speaking improvements in the management of the small pelagic species used for fishmeal production benefit the broader marine ecosystem. Certification schemes in themselves may be viewed at a level above regulatory frameworks, generally achieving more than is required by fisheries management rules and regulations.  The idea that certification for non-food fishes could be removed from schemes could have a major deleterious effect on supply, where certifications such as MSC and IFFO RS actually protect those stocks.

4. The recommendation for consumers to “reduce fish consumption” ignores the strength of the market for farmed seafood production and its great success in providing nutritious edible protein (e.g. farmed salmon and shrimp).  Consumers want the product because as well as being appealing to their tastes it is also healthy and nutritious. 

5. IFFO fully endorses the first recommendation for policy-makers, that governance frameworks should be strengthened to eliminate IUU and slave labour, prevent over-fishing, and enhance transparency and reporting in global fisheries’ supply chains. 

6. For the recommendations for retailers, IFFO can agree that transparency is important and this also works to secure the true value of fishmeal and fish oil in aquaculture production, however eliminating fishmeal and fish oil in farmed seafood production is nonsensical for the reasons outlined above, as well as the use of trimmings and byproduct from seafood processing accounting for at least 33% of total world fishmeal production.  That is an effective use of a resource that would otherwise predominantly go to landfill.


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