A nine-year study by the University of British Columbia has found that 90% of small fish caught in the world’s oceans every year such as anchovies, sardines and mackerel are processed to make fishmeal and fish oil.
Factory-farmed fish, pigs and poultry are consuming 28 million tonnes of fish
a year, or roughly six times the amount of seafood eaten by Americans, according
to the study.
They are used as a cheap feed for aquaculture, poultry,
pigs and animals bred for the fur industry.
The study’s findings, to be
published next month, warn this use is unsustainable, given current rates of
global over fishing and increasing threats to global food
University of Columbia senior researcher Jacqueline Alder said:
“Society should demand that we stop wasting these fish on farmed fish, pigs, and
“Although feeds derived from soy and other land-based crops are
available and are used, fishmeal and fish oil have skyrocketed in popularity
because forage fish are easy to catch in large numbers and, hence, relatively
According to the study, small forage fish account for 37%,
or 31.5 million tonnes, of all fish taken from the world’s oceans each year. Of
this amount, 90% is processed into fishmeal and fish oil.
show 46% of fishmeal and fish oil is used as feed for aquaculture, 24% for pig
feed and 22% for poultry.
The US-based Pew Institute for Ocean Science
Institute, which funded the research, plans to set up a global taskforce of
leading scientists and fisheries policy experts to find new ways of making
forage fisheries more sustainable.
The institute’s executive director, Dr
Ellen Pikitch, said: “It defies reason to drain the ocean of small, wild fishes
that could be directly consumed by people in order to produce a lesser quantity
of farmed fish.”
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