Takeaways from the Technical Forum - October 2021 webinar

Date: 20 October 2021

IFFO’s Technical Forum was held on Day 2 of the October Webinar. To start with, Dr Brett Glencross, IFFO’s Technical Director, presented the 2025 technical strategy, based on surveillance of sector intelligence, the implementation of innovation initiatives, delivery of member services, and advocacy and promotion support.

Brett GlencrossRegarding antioxidant regulations, there have been delays due to COVID-19 and the reauthorization process for ethoxyquin (EQ) as a feed additive in the European Feed Safety Authority (EFSA) remains ongoing, the final decision is not expected before November 2021. For BHT, there have again been delays within a reauthorization process as a feed additive in the EU, EFSA scientific opinion is due to be published and safety studies have been completed, final scientific opinion is expected in early 2022. For Tocopherols, work on registration for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) bulk shipping (IMSBC) code is underway with trials and the IMO-IMSBC reference point is expected to be ready by early 2022. Lastly, for dioxins and dioxin-like Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), European Feed Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently reviewing the use of relative effect potencies for the derivation of Toxic Equivalency Factors for dioxin-like compounds, which is due for completion by early 2022.  

NOAA’s Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was established in 2016 with the aim to reduce marine mammal bycatch associated with international commercial fishing operations and it requires foreign fisheries exporting fish and fish products to the US to have standards comparable (and a comparability finding) in effectiveness to those used in the US. The five-year exemption period ends on November 30, 2021, and countries need to develop their own appropriate regulatory programs and submit their progress reports and comparability finding applications (at a country level).

The distinction between feed and food grade processing of fish oils remains a live issue with the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (DFVA) and the Norwegian authorities interpreting the legislation as permitting dual use of infrastructure, allowing different grade of raw materials to be used for fish oil for DHC and feed, provided that HACCP principles are adopted. SANIPES, the National Fisheries Health Organization of Peru, has mandated all production lines to be compliant with human consumption grade oil destined for the EU. Recent communications between the DFVA and DG SANTE has resulted in advice that the rules do not allow for dual use of an establishment for production of both DHC and Feed Grade fish oils. Dialogue remains ongoing.

Moving to IFFO’s projects, the new antioxidant project continues, examining the use of two different oxygen bomb meters intended to quantify the stability of fishmeal treated with a range of different antioxidants compared against ethoxyquin. New antioxidant samples have been provided by participants and the experimental work is due to commence in October 2021.

Final reports on the Fishmeal Holotype Collection are available to IFFO’s members, comprising 44 different samples from 19 species, including both whole-fish and by-product fishmeals with 159 different parameters analysed. Also available soon for members is a review on microplastics, examining the various methodologies of published studies on microplastics with findings indicating that that a standardised approach for assessing microplastics presently does not exist.

Moving to biodiversity, a report has been commissioned by leading scientific experts to critically evaluate the impacts of different fishing and agricultural environments on biodiversity impacts; analysing the role that marine ingredients play in global protein production (and its comparatively low environmental impacts in relation to biodiversity).

Following on from the fishmeal holotype collection, a sub-set of fishmeal samples along with several laboratory made fishmeals were used in feeds fed to Atlantic salmon to assess the variation in digestibility and palatability of each sample, with the data further used to develop some provisional near-infrared spectroscopy calibrations for future rapid analysis capacity. The final report is available to IFFO’s members and a summary will be published soon.

Looking forward to new projects, these will include studies on Microplastic origins in fishmeal and impacts, a series of strategic Technical Workshops as well as a series of pilots for projects to support key areas such as product environmental footprint rules, sustainability, and product properties.

SSPORichard Beckett, Head of Standards, Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO) followed with a presentation focused on Label Rouge standards. SSPO represents all of Scotland’s salmon (8) and smolt (3) producers and its sister company SQS Ltd oversees the management of the Label Rouge 33/90 quality assurance scheme.

Label Rouge standard specifications underpin the production of the highest quality, as defined primarily by the French consumer. Specifically, the standard ensures the controlled level of lipids in the flesh (requiring a special feed), that the salmon is raised in the open ocean for a minimum of 12 months and that there is guaranteed traceability of the salmon. Regarding feed specifications and ingredients, the standard ensures that nutritional profiles (tested by the French authorities) are designed to ensure that the fish receive complete nutrition at all stages of development focussing on morphology, texture, taste, lipid accumulation and colour. A three-pillar approach is taken for sustainability, incorporating environmental, social and economic sustainability. Sustainability claims must be evidenced through 3rd party certification, as well as internal and external reporting. Traceability has to be demonstrated throughout the supply chain and feed ingredients need to be of the highest quality and supplies stabilised over the long term.


Looking at Omega-3 fatty acid metabolism in Atlantic salmon, Bente Ruyter, Senior Scientist, Nofima noted that salmon have a low capacity to convert ALA to EPA and DHA and therefore need EPA and DHA in their diet. At 1% EPA and DHA in their diets, salmon have a reduced survival, fatty liver, intestinal changes and changes in vertebrae. With 1,6% EPA and DHA in their diets they have both good growth and survival. As the foundation of aquafeed, fishmeal and fish oil provide important nutrients, most notably phospholipids, EPA and DHA, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Marine oil has been reduced to the limit, in 2000 salmon diets used 31% fish oil and in 2020 salmon diets used 10%, the limit for healthy fish has been met.

Nofima has carried out sea cage trials to determine the requirement of dietary EPA and DHA that secures fish growth, health and muscle quality under challenging environmental conditions in sea cages. The trial had four dietary groups of varying percentages of EPA and DHA in feed, from 1 to 3.5%, with weight and growth rates measured along with welfare and organ rates. In summary the results showed that increasing the level of marine EPA and DHA fatty acids in feed increased growth, improved colour and reduced occurrence of black melanin spots in fillet, improved fish welfare and health, improved selenium and zinc status in whole body, and increased EPA and DHA contents in tissues.

Nicola ClarkThe technical Forum ended with MarinTrust’s Improver Programme and its contribution to Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs). Dr Nicola Clark, Impacts Manager at MarinTrust. The MarinTrust Improver Programme has been designed to facilitate improvement in a certain supply chain, company or activity, allowing an assessment of where you are in relation to an end goal, while providing a template to map out the improvements needed to get to your end goal. It allows to identify areas to focus your efforts and resources; it’s not a static process and the end goal may change over time.

Currently 51% of marine ingredients are MarinTrust certified, with China, Vietnam, Japan and Thailand having the largest potential to join the certification process. The targets for the IP are factories not yet meeting the criteria to be certified by the MarinTrust Standard (raw material sourcing). Once accepted onto the Improver Programme, applicants have a structured improvement journey for the fishery mapped out, with agreed milestones and a timeframe that must be met in order to work towards MarinTrust certification.

The MarinTrust IP allows recognition of FIP raw materials being used to produce marine ingredients. It uses the MarinTrust fishery assessment as a benchmark for improvements and allows marine ingredients producers to demonstrate compliance to the MarinTrust standard at the factory level. It also encourages all supply chain actors to be involved in the improvement efforts at the fishery level. And finally, provides assurances to buyers that the raw material entering the supply chain is fully traceable from the fishery.

To apply, applicants must be a signed stakeholder in a MarinTrust accepted FIP, the applicant FIP must meet improvement milestones during the process and must conform to the surveillances and peer reviews throughout; and the production site must pass a MarinTrust audit and maintain compliance. Countries with on-going FIPs include Thailand, India, Mauritania, North Atlantic, Panama and Ecuador.

Improvement programmes are important vehicles to motivate and facilitate change and the MarinTrust IP provides a mechanism for marine ingredient producers to demonstrate compliance to the MarinTrust standard and commitment to improving the fisheries they source from. The Programme provides full traceability from the FIP through production of marine ingredients and into the feed or other marine ingredients uses.