Friday, 9 September 2016

Post 3: Forage Fish - Fish Farm Feed Stats - 10.2 Billion Forage Fish Killed to feed BC Fish Farms, alone, Not Counting Atlantic Canada - And Marine Harvest Operates in 23 Countries, Updated Oct 2, 2016

(Please note that I have calculated updated numbers of forage fish killed to feed fish farm fish in this post: The updated figures are: 113 forage fish killed per farmed salon.  

The updated figures are: 113 forage fish killed per farmed salmon; 67.8 million forage fish killed to feed one farm to harvest; 5.76 Billion killed to feed an industry the size of BC's to harvest. The larger figures below are those if one uses the commonly found conversion rate of kg forage fish to fish meal/oil of 5 to 1. I have been convinced by The Sea Around Us that it is too high. And I am satisfied that my current estimates are good figures. The really useful information below is how to calculate the weight of an average forage fish).


A major new report has found that fishmeal and fish oil fisheries are drastically fishing down forage fish in the oceans to make feed to feed fish farm fish for first world human mouths, not as food for third world human mouths.


"The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has found in its annual sustainability overview of reduction fisheries for 2016 that only 3.8 per cent of the total catch volume of reduction fisheries comes from stocks in very good condition."

The report covers 20 of the most significant fisheries used for making fishmeal and fish oil - a catch exceeding 7.8 million tonnes - but does not include reduction fisheries in Asia because of limited data. You will recall that the Asians are fishing down the Jack Mackerel stocks off Chile that countries like Norway stopped fishing after they decimated stocks.

The report found, to March 2016:

  • "Only 3.8 per cent of the total catch volume of the reduction fisheries in this analysis comes from stocks in very good condition. As in last year´s overview, this corresponds to a single fishery: Antarctic krill - Atlantic Southern Ocean.
  • Most (57.4 per cent) of the total catch volume in this analysis comes from stocks that are reasonably well managed (or better) (i.e., that score 6 or above on all five FishSource criteria).
  • More than one third (42.6 per cent; 3.3 million tonnes) of the total catch for reduction purposes comes from the seven less well-managed fisheries (Category C) in this overview.
  • Only 14 per cent of the catch comes from stocks that score 6 or above in all criteria and the score for biomass is 8 or more, meaning biomass is at or above target levels (Category B1). This level of performance is in line with the current Aquaculture Stewardship Council requirements for fisheries providing fishmeal and fish oil for feed to certified farms (ASC 2012)."
You will note that the last item's the ASCs, from the WWF, consider this okay for certification of fish farms. In other words the ASCs mean nothing. I think 14% says it all, not too mention the 3.8%. The WWF when it was looking to bring out its ASCs asked me to comment.

I told the WWF that giving an award to an in-ocean fish farm was wrong because they need to be in closed containment on land. They sent a note back saying, yes, they understand that, but they are hoping to move toward that goal.

My experience with Norwegian-style fish farms is that the WWF is just being naive. Fish farms have no interest in moving because they get to use the ocean as a free, open sewer. Governments need to move them out of oceans that they are rendering useless for anything but algal blooms.

Not to mention fishing down fish stocks that people should be eating. Fish farms need to raise vegetarians, not carnivores.

The report: “Reduction Fisheries: SFP Fisheries Sustainability Overview 2016” – can be found here.

A parting quote: "Blake Lee-Harwood, Strategy Director, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership: “It’s unfortunate that less than 60 per cent of the volume of fish assessed by this report comes from fisheries that can be considered well-managed. This situation has not improved in recent years and there seems to be a lack of ambition in some regions."

Really? What a polite way of saying fish farms destroy ocean fish, not add to them. If you feed a carnivore 4 kg of fishmeal to put on a kg of a farmed salmon, and harvest at 5kg, I would say it is likely that you are looking at 200 forage fish killed per farmed salmon.

Here is the back of the envelope calculation: 1 forage fish = 100 grams (3.5 ounces) X 10 (1000g/100g) X 4kg/1kg X 5 (for five kilograms per farmed salmon) = 200 forage fish killed. [to come, the wet weight of fish meal, as fish are 80 to 90% water]

Sustainable? I don't think so.

Oh, and one more thing: fish farms average 600,000 fish. That means the number of forage fish killed to feed one farm is: 200 X 600,000 = 120 Million.

Let me say again, the average fish farms kills 120 million fish in the ocean to feed one farm. In BC, for 85 fish filled fish farms is: 10.2 Billion.

So, the claim by Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood that they help dwindling fish stocks is completely false. They are claiming what they know to be untrue. If I can do it on the back of an envelope, what is the figure on computer models?

Sorry, one more thing, about that 3.8%: krill is the basic ocean chain, trophic level, that supports the entire food chain in Antarctica, that means major mammals like baleen whales, in the last place on earth where the final 3.8% of potential feed is in good shape.

Not for long, I'd say.

Now, to find out a weight for the fish used most commonly in fishmeal, here are some of the most important such species, and their weights. Anchovy is the most commonly used fish to make fishmeal.

Sandlance - max 10g
Capelin - max 52 g
Anchovy - 25 - 68 g
Blue Whiting - 135 - 280g
Menhaden - 24 - 817g
Jack Mackerel -
Herring - 100g
Herring - 410 - 1050g
Pollock up to 21kg

Anchovy weight, 25 to 68 grams. Here is a link. You will see that they are smaller than the 100 grams I used, making my calculation conservative:

Menhaden weight: 24–817 grams:

Capelin weight: max 52 g


Forage Fish:

Sandlance/sand eels:  'While sandeel are not caught for human consumption they are harvested in huge numbers for aquaculture and the fishmeal industry. If lesser sandeel are overfished and stocks collapse the knock on effect of the lack of this humble fish will be massive.' From:

More for sandlance/eels- 10 grams:  "Sand eels have even an economic value in the production of fish meal and fish oil. This type of factory fishing started during the seventies and is pursued by mainly Danish and Norwegian fleets in the North Sea using finely meshed trawls in the spring and summer. North Sea production has annually grossed between 400 000 ton - 1 000 000 ton since mid-1970. Because the average weight of a sand eel is about 10 gram, it would entail that about 100 billion individuals are caught during a good year!" From:

Blue whiting weight - 135 - 280 grams: 'A blue whiting 31 cm long caught in spring just before spawning typically weighs about 180 g. The range is from about 135 g for a 27 cm fish to about 280 g for a 35 cm fish. In contrast, a 31 cm fish just after spawning weighs about 140 g. Rested, well fed fish caught north of Norway in the autumn weigh from about 135 g for a 29 cm fish to 340 g for a 37 cm fish. The figures are all for ungutted fish.' From:

Herring weight - 410 - 1050 grams, and the herring used as bait in BC are about 100 grams:

Pollock wight - up to 21 kg

Jack Mackerel: five kilograms of jack mackerel are needed to raise one kilogram of farmed salmon.[4] See:

And there is that condemnation of the Jack harvest [Wikipedia]: "Geopolitical rivalries and lack of international cooperation is preventing [saving the Jack M].[4] In an interview with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the French marine biologist Daniel Pauly compared jack mackerels to American bison, whose populations also collapsed in the 19th century from overhunting: "This is the last of the buffaloes. When they’re gone, everything will be gone ... This is the closing of the frontier."[4]"

And the history, you ask? It is this: "on the eastern side of the south Pacific, the Chilean fishery operating mainly within its own EEZ has taken 75% of the global catch over the years. The Peruvian fishery captured 800,000 tonnes in 2001, but overall is an order of magnitude smaller.[7] On the western side of the south Pacific, New Zealand fishes jack mackerel mainly inside their own EEZ, peaking modestly at 25,000 tonnes in 1995–96. From 1978 to 1991, the USSR fishing fleet intensively fished the jack mackerel belt on the high seas, taking 13 million tonnes. In subsequent years, other distant fishing nations, such as Belize, China, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Korea, have joined Russia fishing the jack mackerel belt, and by 2007, these nations were taking 18% of the global catch.[7]There are fears the fishery may collapse due to overfishing.[11]"

And, a very good article on global fish meal production:

A quote from it:

'Global production of fishmeal is concentrated around a few top producers; top ten manufacturers in 2007 made up approximately 80 per cent of the global production. Today Peru is the largest producer, China the second, Chile the third and then the Nordic countries Norway, Denmark and Iceland follow as the most important producers. There are approximately 300 dedicated plants worldwide that produce about 6.3 million tons of fishmeal and 1.1 million tons of oil annually from roughly 33 million tons of whole fish and trimmings (FIN 2010). The species used in production vary from region to region, but generally speaking it consists of small, bony, pelagic fish that has little or no commercial value as fish for direct consumption5 (FAO 1986). It is estimated that about 90 per cent of the fish species used to make fishmeal is “presently unmarketable in large quantities as human food” (Bose 1991). See table 2.1 for an overview of the different species used around the globe.'

More to come.

More on making fish meal:

Fish farms may say it is not that bad because we use other things in our feed, too. Well, some of those are fish offal, guts and what gets thrown away from preparing a fish for sale, chicken feathers and their fluoroquinolones, animal excrement and so on.

I asked EWOS five times whether they used excrement in their fish feed, but received no reply. I would say that means they refused to answer whether they use excrement in their fish meal. Do you want to eat excrement? Do you want to eat chicken feathers?

Making fish meal:

"Fish meal has been used as a feedstuff since the 19th century in Northern Europe and is now used worldwide. Global production of fish meal has been stable for the past two decades at around 5 to 6 million tons, Peru and Chile being the main producers.

A major portion (more than 60%) of fish meal produced globally is used for aquaculture (farming of finfish and shrimp). The intensification of aquaculture in Asia, and particularly in China, is increasing the demand for fish meal even though the supply cannot grow accordingly. Natural phenomena such as the El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation affect the fisheries along Central American Pacific coasts, leading to seasonal scarcities and increased prices. Due to these factors, the fish meal market is volatile and prices often shoot up. The search for suitable and cost-effective alternative protein sources for use in industrial aquafeeds will be the most critical factor in the development of intensive aquaculture in Asia (Kaushik, 2010; Steinfeld et al., 2006)."

And, though the report says that fish farms don't deplete stocks, it is a 2008 reference and the report cited above is 2016.

More: "The three major sources of fish meal are:
  • fish stocks harvested specifically for this purpose: small, bony and oily fish such as anchovy, horse mackerel, menhaden, capelin, sandeel, blue whiting, herring, pollack…
  • by-catches from other fisheries;
  • trimmings and offal left over from fish processed for human consumption (unpalatable or fast spoiling) (FIN, 2008).
Fish meal is an excellent source of highly digestible protein, long chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and essential vitamins and minerals (IFOMA, 2001). Fish meal quality depends on the raw material used and on the processing method involved."

Forage fish used for fishmeal are typically 80- to 90-% water. 

No comments:

Post a Comment