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FAO. 2002. Use of fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds: further thoughts on the fishmeal trap, by M.B. New & U.N. Wijkström. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 975. Rome. 61 pp.

This Circular reports the results of a re-assessment of the use of fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds in the context of the currently static supplies of marine resources. After reviewing earlier studies on this topic, the methodological approach to the topic used in the current study is described in detail. The results of the study indicate that nearly 2.1 million tonnes of fishmeal and approaching 0.7 million tonnes of fish oil were used in the global aquafeed industry in 1999. This represented some 32 percent of the global fishmeal supply and 49 of the fish oil available worlwide. It is estimated that the aquafeed industry in the People’s Republic of China was utilizing about 30 percent of the fishmeal used in aquafeed manufacture and 16 percent of the fish oil used for this purpose by 1999. The expected future expansion of global aquaculture, particularly of carnivorous species, has the potential to utilize about 70 percent of total global supplies of fishmeal by the year 2015 and to exceed the total supplies of fish oil well before that date. The changing characteristics of Chinese aquaculture production will have a significant effect on future utilization of these marine resources. The report then discusses the factors that will mitigate this potential problem. These factors include economic, resource supply, resource competition, environmental, ethical, safety, quality, public image, and other issues. The potential for the partial or complete replacement of marine resources in aquafeeds is also briefly discussed. Finally, the report stresses the importance of future research on improved feeding technology and on the utilization of marine resource replacement ingredients in aquafeeds. It is vital that fishmeal and fish replacers not only promote similar growth and survival rates to marine aquafeed ingredients but also ensure that aquatic animal health and welfare is fostered and that the resultant aquaculture products are nutritionally excellent, safe to eat, and accepted by the consuming public.

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