January 26, 2023

Scientists Warn: Nutritious Fish Stocks Are Being Squandered by Salmon Farming

” If we wish to feed the growing global population well and sustainably, we need to stop catching wild fish to feed farmed fish.”– David Willer

The study, led by a group of researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Lancaster and Liverpool and environmental NGO Feedback Global was released on March 1, 2022, in the journal PLOS Sustainability and Transformation.
As the worlds fastest growing food sector, aquaculture is frequently presented as a method to relieve pressure on wild fish stocks. However many aquaculture fish– such as Atlantic salmon– are farmed using fish oil and meal made from countless tonnes of wild-caught fish, the majority of which is food-grade and might be consumed straight to offer important nutrition.
The group collected data on fish nutrient fish, material, and fishmeal oil composition, and salmon production, and took a look at the transfer of micronutrients from feed to fish in Scotlands farmed salmon industry. They discovered that over half of the necessary fatty acids and dietary minerals available in wild fish are lost when these fish are fed to farmed salmon.
Dr. David Willer, a scientist in the University of Cambridges Department of Zoology and very first author of the paper, said: “Fish and seafood supply a essential and valuable micronutrient-rich food source to people worldwide, and we need to make sure we are using this resource efficiently. Eating more wild fish and using alternative feeds in salmon farms can accomplish this.”
The group developed numerous alternative production circumstances where salmon were just produced using fish spin-offs, and then added more wild-caught fish, mussels or carp for human usage. All situations produced more seafood that was more nutritious than salmon, and left 66-82% of feed fish in the sea.
Feedbacks Dr Karen Luyckx stated: “If we wish to feed a growing worldwide population well and sustainably, we need to stop capturing wild fish to feed farmed fish. Until the salmon industry kicks its wild-caught fish oil and fishmeal routine, retailers and chefs ought to help people switch far from unsustainable salmon by offering ultra-nutritious mussels and small oily fish instead.”
Based on their findings on the Scottish salmon industry, the scientists gathered global salmon, fishmeal, and oil production data to apply their alternative scenarios at a global scale. One situation shows that farming more carp and less salmon, utilizing just feed from fish by-products, could leave 3.7 million tonnes of wild fish in the sea while producing 39% more seafood in general.
The authors caution that insufficient is known about the source and types composition of fishmeal, however there are positive signs that using plant-based feeds is growing.
Dr. James Robinson of Lancaster University said: “Aquaculture, consisting of salmon farming, has an essential role in meeting worldwide food demand, however healthy wild fish ought to be focused on for local usage rather than salmon feed, particularly if it is captured in food-insecure places.
” Support for alternative feeds can assist this shift, but we still need more data on the volumes and types used for fishmeal and fish oil, as this can show where salmon farming locations extra pressure on fish stocks.”
Eventually, the authors call for a decrease in marine aquaculture feeds, as this will offer chances to produce more healthy seafood while reducing pressure on marine communities.
Willer included: “If we want to feed the growing worldwide population well and sustainably, we must stop catching wild fish to feed farmed fish. There is an urgent need for the food industry to promote the consumption of more sustainable seafood species– like mussels or carp– that do not need other fish as feed.”
Reference: “Maximising sustainable nutrient production from coupled fisheries-aquaculture systems” by David F. Willer, James P. W. Robinson, Grace T. Patterson and Karen Luyckx, 1 March 2022, PLOS Sustainability and Transformation.DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pstr.0000005.
This research study was funded by the Cambridge Philosophical Society, by means of a Henslow Fellowship to David Willer.

Consuming wild-caught fish rather of using it as feed in salmon farming would permit nearly 4 million tonnes of fish to be left in the sea, while providing an extra 6 million tonnes of seafood for human consumption, a study finds.
Researchers studying the Scottish salmon farming industry state that utilizing just fish spin-offs– such as trimmings– for salmon feed, rather than entire wild-caught fish, would provide considerable nutritional and sustainability gains.

This would permit 3.7 million tonnes of fish to be left in the sea, and make it possible for global yearly seafood production to increase by 6.1 million tonnes.

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