Solely focusing on fishmeal and fish oil replacement in aquafeeds may not yield long-term sustainability benefits, say researchers.
A recent paper published in reviews in fisheries science and aquaculture argues that aquafeed manufacturers need to consider a raft of social, environmental and economic indicators when formulating sustainable feeds.
They explain that fish oil and fishmeal replacement and fish-in-fish-out (FIFO) measures are only part of aquafeed’s sustainability picture – exclusively focusing on these areas could undermine the sector’s other environmental and social initiatives.
Instead, the researchers argue that the aquafeed sector should take a holistic view of sustainability and acknowledge the trade-offs that come with different feed ingredients and feed formulations.
Fish-in-fish-out measures track the amount of fishmeal and fish oil in compound aquafeeds. These metrics are useful because they highlight aquaculture’s continued dependence on the wild fisheries sector.
However, the researchers argue that the FIFO metrics’ narrow focus on fishery pressure can cast marine conservation as the only goal of aquaculture’s sustainability efforts.
In reality, aquaculture’s sustainability challenges are more nuanced – replacing all fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds won’t automatically make the blue economy “greener”.
There are environmental trade-offs when aquafeed manufacturers substitute fish-based protein with other materials. Replacing fishmeal and fish oil with soy can have serious implications for deforestation and land conversion. The Fish Site