This document was first published in 1975 in response to frequent requests for information on the production of fish meal and oil. and the feasibility of setting up an industry. As the paper has proved popular. this revision has been prepared by the Fishery Industries Division to include developments that have taken place during the last 10 years.


FAO acknowledges the assistance received in the preparation of this document from the International Association of Fish Meal Manufacturers and its members. The following consultants prepared substantial sections: Dr. E. Ettrup Petersen, Dr. G.M. Dreosti, Mr W. Schmidtsdorff, Mr G. Sand, Dr. S.M. Barlow and Dr I.H. Pike. The assistance of those individuals, too numerous to mention. who have provided information and commented on the draft version, is also gratefully acknowledged.


FAO Fisheries Department
FAO Regional Fishery Officers
HP Mailing List
International Association of Fish Meal Manufacturers

For bibliographic purposes this document should be cited as follows:

FAO, Fishery Industries Division
The production of fish meal and oil.
FAO Fish. Tech. Pap., (142) Rev. 1: 63p.


The paper provides advice and guidance on the production of Fish meal and oil. It is intended to give information to potential investors in the industry as well as to government officials considering whether an industry is feasible. Included in the paper are chapters on raw material requirements, methods of processing, pollution abatement and investment and operating costs. Quality control of the various products, consumption of fuel, power and water and staffing requirements are also covered.



I am pleased to commend this revised issue of the FAO publication "The Production of Fish Meal and Oil" to its readers. I particularly hope that it will be of help to those who are planning to establish new fishmeal and oil industries, especially in developing countries. I hope, too, that it will be of value to those operating established fishmeal and oil plants. My Association, which has specialized liaison status with FAO, has collaborated very closely with FAO in the preparation of this publication. The information which it contains is practical, up-to-date and shows a sophisticated and forward looking industry. It does not attempt to set out quality standards or processing guidelines, but it gives a detailed survey of all aspects of fishmeal and oil production from resource to marketing.

The methods described in the document, if carefully applied, will yield products that can be marketed internationally. Attempts should not be made to produce fish meal and oil by sun drying or by the use of unhygienic equipment and methods which can result in infected and tainted products or meal with too high an oil content. Criticism is sometimes levelled at the fishmeal and oil industry for using fishery resources which ought to be used directly for human consumption. Plainly, where fish can be beneficially caught and used for human consumption, this is most desirable. Even with established human food fishing industries there is the potential waste of by-catch or the residues left after filleting or other processing. These can be turned into fish meal. In addition, there are major stocks of fish around the world, mainly small pelagic species which at present, for palatability and other reasons, cannot be beneficially used for human food or which can be used only in small quantities.

Some 30% of the world's fish catch is processed into fish meal and oil, but of this 90% is manufactured from species which are currently regarded as unsaleable in the human food market. However, the preferred species are now reaching maximum levels of exploitation. In order to satisfy projections of demand, it seems likely that more of the raw material currently used for fish meal will be diverted to direct human consumption. At the same time, unconventional resources (mesopelagic species, etc.), which are not suitable for human consumption, will be a future source of raw material for fishmeal production.

I must stress that fish meal and oil are of major value in human feeding and increasingly in developing countries which are themselves developing intensive livestock production. Fish meal is a high quality ingredient in feeds for animals including fish raised by aquaculture. In this way, it makes a significant indirect contribution to human nutrition. At the same time, the fish oil is put to many good uses - for human food such as in margarine and shortenings, and for medical and industrial purposes. Fish protein concentrates are suitable for direct human consumption as food ingredients.

Finally, I wish to point out that the FAO Technical Conference on Fishery Products, held in Tokyo in December 1973, had concluded that conversion of fish to meal and oil was a major factor in preventing waste and ensuring the beneficial exploitation of fish which cannot be gainfully used for direct human feeding, and that the fishmeal and oil industry had a useful role to play in the future progress of fisheries in the developing countries.

S.M. Barlow

Director General, International Association of Fish Meal Manufacturers (IAFMM)
Hoval House, Orchard Parade, Mutton Lane, Potters Bar
Herts, EN6 3AR, United Kingdom