Wednesday, 15 February 2017

KEY DOCUMENT: The Dark Side of Aquaculture - Bloom Report Slams Reduction Fisheries - Fish Meal for Fish Farms, False Eco-labels, Updated April 2, 2017

The Dark Side of Aquaculture

This new report slams the use of key global forage fish stocks for fish meal for farmed fish, poultry, hogs, etc:

Cashion is also the author, working with Daniel Pauly, at UBC, of the Sea Around Us paper on the global reduction fishery. Among other things, it said that of the top 20 forage fish stocks used for this purpose, 19 out of 20 are either mis-managed, collapsing, or both. See:

This new study slams the fish farm industry fishmeal industry:

"Throughout this report and a scientific study conducted simultaneously (Cashion et al., 2017), BLOOM and coauthors show that reduction fisheries are the result of the massive over exploitation of traditional fish stocks, and that they are now contributing to the sequential depletion of the very first links of the food chain, despite their crucial importance for marine ecosystems."

That sounds pretty bad, but just how bad are fish farm fisheries for fish meal? This bad: they break UN rules:

"Our study shows that fishmeal is mainly used by unsustainable aquaculture schemes that produce carnivorous fish (salmon, sea bream, etc.) but also to feed species such as pigs, poultry or mink that do not naturally eat fish and for which marine proteins are thus completely superfluous. The entire reduction fisheries cycle, from the initial targeting of edible fish to the final use of fishmeal in aquaculture, pig and poultry farming, is contrary to the ‘Code of conduct for responsible fisheries’ of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which clearly states that fisheries must directly contribute to food security and that the reduction of small pelagics into fishmeal and fish oil should be limited to non-edible species (such as boarfish)."

Moving on, on several occasions I have looked into the following issue on this site: which, if any, of the various ecolabels and sustainability awards fish farms line up to obtain mean anything at all, for example, the BAPs, ASCs, MSCs among others. Bloom does not mince words:

"Finally, BLOOM’s report denounces the commercial logic of ecolabels, which, instead of solving the issue of overfishing, end up encouraging bad practices such as unsustainable aquaculture or unethical fisheries. The increasingly controversial MSC label (Marine Stewardship Council) already certifies 7% of the world’s reduction fisheries, although they exploit the very bottom of the food web and pose structural threats to food security. Thus greenwashed, MSC-certified reduction fisheries can then enter unsustainable aquaculture schemes of carnivorous fishes, which are then poised to obtain the MSC’s sister aquaculture label, the ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council). In other words, labels that have redefined sustainability reinforce each other by cross-referencing, promoting their weak standards and controversial certifications."

Just as I have been saying. The Monterey Bay system is good. If you want to buy seafood ethically, go to their site: It gives you green labels to buy, yellow to ponder and red to avoid - the latter includes farmed salmon.

Do go to the full report and read the conclusions: This is hard-nosed condemnation of reduction fisheries and farmed fish. Wild fish need to be used for human consumption, not taken out of human mouths from third world countries, and fed to first world consumer mouths, who can afford farmed salmon.

Here are some of the overall conclusions, starting on p20:

*Aquaculture that reduces small pelagic species to produce large predatory fish should be see as the ultimate proof that managing fisheries sustainably has failed.

*Fishing fleets and governments should steer clear from forage fisheries. 

* Legislation prohibiting the use of fishmeal in animal feed should be enacted.

* Reduction fisheries should not be eligible for sustainable certification.

* Refuse to reduce fish to produce fish, and adopt the contrary cradle-to-cradle solutions such as insect farming, resulting in waste problem management and protein production.

There you have it. Go look.

Also, there is a good quick blue box on feed conversion rates on page 18. The IFFO, believe it or not, vastly underestimates the weight of wild fish to produce one kg of farmed fish: 


There has been much confusion in the literature over conversion ratios, i.e. the amount of farmed fish that is produced from a given amount of wild-caught fish. For example, if every tonne of a given species required 5 tonnes of wild fish reduced into fishmeal, then the ratio would be 5:1. By considering the production of all farmed marine species (including carnivorous, omnivorous and herbivorous species), the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation (IFFO) fallaciously reports a ratio of 0.7:1, i.e. for every tonne of wild fish, the aquaculture industry produces almost 1.5t of output.[29] However, when single species conversion ratios are used, the conversion efficiency changes drastically and is clearly greater than 1:1.[135] Overall, it was estimated in the late 2000s that almost five kilos of forage fish were needed to produce one kilo of carnivorous fish in the late 2000s,[14]  with ratios as high as 10:1 for salmon in Chile. [136] Since then, however, this ration has decreased thanks to improvements in feed’s composition and has even been inferior to one in a few cases.



My contact with the Sea Around Us people is that it is about 2 to 2.2 to 1. You heard it here first.

Also, here is an updated news article on the Cashion/Pauly document:


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