Monday, March 5, 2018

06/03/2018: Application of metrics to marine ingredient use in aquafeeds

by Dr Neil Auchterlonie, Technical Director, IFFO

As is the case for the aquaculture industry itself, the marine ingredients industry has been the focus of attention on its use of forage fish stocks as raw material for aquafeed ingredients

In an effort to adopt some method for accounting for the volumes of whole fish being used in fishmeal and fish oil production, metrics have been proposed for calculating the use of wild fish in aquaculture production.

Within that approach the Fish In: Fish Out (FIFO) ratio, and, with possibly less emphasis, the Forage Fish Dependency Ratio (FFDR) are to the fore. Although at least one group of authors has challenged the use of FIFO on the basis that it is unclear whether it is an ecological, or an ethical indicator of fish resource use (Taylor et al., 2011), the stories behind these acronyms have long become an accepted way of looking at the fishmeal, aquafeed and aquaculture industries’ environmental performances.

Behind that acceptance there has been rather little discussion and debate over the usefulness of the application of the concept. It seems straightforward to assume that a consideration of the amount of wild fish used in the production of farmed fish would be a true reflection of environmental sustainability, but is that really correct?

Nutritional contributions
Fishmeal is a nutritionally complete ingredient for carnivorous fish species. This is a fact that should be unsurprising given the evolution with, and adaptation of, the carnivorous species to a piscivorous diet.

The nutritional benefits are well documented and include for example: high relative digestibility, excellent amino acid profiles and few issues with anti-nutritional factors (Lane, et al., 2014) as well as being rich in certain vitamins (e.g. A, B-group and D) and minerals (e.g. Ca, P, Fe, Zn, Se, I) (Olsen & Hasan, 2012).

All these nutrients are known to benefit physiology not only from the perspective of growth (obviously a key consideration in aquaculture production systems), but also from the perspective of fish health, and the nutritional composition of the end product.

As IFFO has argued previously (Auchterlonie, 2016), modern fed aquaculture is successful partly by virtue of the foundation that fishmeal and fish oil provided in nutritionally complete diets for carnivorous species (e.g. salmon, shrimp) in the early years, freeing up the industry to make the advances in systems technology and health which have been so important to its progress.

Read the full article, HERE.

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