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Two articles written more than a decade ago (Wijkström and New, 1989; New and Wijkström, 1990) expressed concern about the use of marine resources for aquafeeds and coined the term ‘fishmeal trap’ which became common parlance in aquaculture (e.g. Little and Edwards, 1997). At that time it was already becoming obvious that aquaculture was likely to require an increasing quantity of fishmeal (and other marine resources) as global production expanded. On the other hand, world fishmeal production was already static. These observations implied that, at some point in the future, farmers culturing shrimp and carnivorous fish would run into a cost-price squeeze - the fishmeal trap - and that this might be the first of several ‘ingredient traps’ which might constrain certain forms of aquaculture in the future. Wijkström and New (1989) attempted to devise a ‘fishmeal equivalent’ (FME) to take account not only of the use of commercially produced fishmeal in aquafeeds, but also the use of other marine ingredients, such as shrimp meal, squid meal, and trash fish. These were utilized not only in commercial aquafeeds but also in ‘farm-made feeds’, a term later defined by New, Tacon and Csavas (FAO, 1993a).

Following a paper by New (1991), which first provided targets for the expansion of aquaculture production, forecasting became a common feature in the aquaculture press (e.g. Chamberlain, 1993; New, 1997; Tacon, 1998; New, 1999;) and in official documents (e.g. New, Shehadeh and Pedini, 1995; Pedini, 1999). Many of these forecasts included considerations of the future use of marine resources in aquafeeds (e.g. Chamberlain, 1993). In 1994, a review of the use of marine resources was presented at a symposium in Norway (New and Csavas, 1995), which included an attempt to refine forecasts of future usage of both fishmeal and fish oil.

Following these early reviews, other reports and forecasts of the use of marine resources in aquafeeds have been published (e.g. Tacon, 1998; De Silva, 1999, and information on this topic is regularly released to members of IFOMA[1] (I.H. Pike, pers. comm., 2000) and discussed in symposia (Chamberlain, 2000). The animal feedstuff industry anticipates that specialized feed production, especially aquafeeds and pet food, is likely to be the fastest expanding sector of its business in the new millennium (Gill, 2000).

[1] International Fish Meal and Oil Manufacturers Association [now merged with the Fishmeal Exporters Organisation (FEO) to form the International Fishmeal and Fishoil Organisation (IFFO)].

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