Facebook icon Twitter icon Mail icon

The Aquafeed Initiative: A collective ambition to shift the French market towards aquaculture using responsibly sourced aquafeed ingredients.

The Aquafeed Initiative: A collective ambition to shift the French market towards aquaculture using responsibly sourced aquafeed ingredients.

Current context

Today, aquaculture has become the driving force behind seafood production worldwide. According to the FAO, in recent years, aquaculture has been producing more seafood for human consumption than the fishing industry, and this trend is set to intensify in the years ahead.

Today, over 90% of marine fish stocks are already overexploited or exploited to their maximum sustainable level by global fishing. Aquaculture therefore has a key role to play in sustainably feeding the world of tomorrow. Some fish that are highly appreciated for human consumption are farmed, which reduces fishing pressure on their wild populations, that are often in poor condition. However, fishing pressure is shifted to other species: the ones that feed farmed fish.

European consumers are very fond of carnivorous species such as salmon, trout, shrimp, sea bass and sea bream. Their diet therefore requires a high protein and/or Omega 3 content, which is provided by fish meal and fish oil. These marine ingredients come from reduction fisheries, which targets small forage fish. Unfortunately, this type of fishing is not very selective and can have many negative environmental and social impacts.

Creation and Philosophy of the Aquafeed Initiative

In 2021, several companies decided to launch an initiative for the sustainability of aquaculture feed, with the support of Earthworm Foundation.

10 French companies have joined forces in a pre-competitive working group, coordinated by Earthworm Foundation, to collectively work on making farmed fish feed in their supply chains more responsible. These companies decided to focus on the salmon sector at first.

Observation: today, aquafeed production requires the extraction of wild fish from the ocean and contributes to the problem of overfishing. Given that aquaculture is the driving force behind seafood production, further exploitation of wild fish stocks to meet the growing demand for aquaculture feed is unsustainable.

Mission: to shift the French market towards aquaculture using more sustainable feed ingredients.

Goal: to limit the ecological and social impact of aquafeed ingredients, in particular by reducing the use of fish meal and fish oil from forage fish, improving the management of fisheries, and ensuring that soy is not sourced from deforestation or conversion.

Strategy: to set collective objectives on the sustainability of aquafeed, bringing together the supply chain stakeholders (distributors, processors, farmers, feed suppliers, etc.); to implement the strategy with the creation of more sustainable supply chains; and to monitor progress.

Past Actions

In 2021, the group carried out a survey on salmon farming in Norway, Scotland and Chile, based on the farmers supplying the Initiative. The survey focused on aquafeed and animal welfare.

In 2022, the members have set collective objectives in favor of sustainable aquaculture feed. These will first be deployed in the salmon sector, with a horizon of 2030. The objectives were defined in consultation with industry key stakeholders, notably salmon producers and feed manufacturers, to ensure feasibility and understand where to focus the collective work. The Initiative members are committed to putting in place the resources needed to achieve these objectives by 2030.

The objectives will then be adapted to other species (trout, sea bass, sea bream, shrimp) with different timeframes.

Collective Objectives for Sustainable Aquafeed

Decreasing the reliance on reduction fisheries

Read more

Improving the sustainability of reduction fisheries

Read more

Ensuring the sustainability of soybean supplies

Read more

These objectives are translated into indicators that will be measured at regular intervals.

The Initiative is now open to any type of company (distributors, processors, farmers or feed manufacturers) aligned with these values, as long as they share the collective objectives.

Actions in 2023

Supply chain mapping: we have mapped the salmon supply chain of the Initiative’s members and collected data from salmon farmers in order to calculate reference indicators for salmon feed.

Some group averaged results :

  • Dependence on industrial fisheries calculated using the Forage Fish Dependency Ratio (FFDR), which breaks down into 2 indicators for fishmeal (FFDRm) and fish oil (FFDRo): FFDRm = 0.5 and FFDRo = 1.5
  • The proportion of MSC-certified marine ingredients: 40%.
  • Deforestation and conversion free guaranteed soy: 99%.

Facilitating a dialogue between the value chain stakeholders: A workshop was organized in Paris bringing together the different players in the salmon value chain: distributors, industrials, farmers, and feed manufacturers. The aim was to educate downstream players about the issues surrounding fishmeal and fish oil and the importance for producers of being able to broaden the basket of raw material for feed that meets the nutritional requirements of salmon, and to discuss the different solutions put forward by the industry and to consider how we can work together towards their adoption.

2024 action plan

The work focuses on the adoption by the French market of new alternative ingredients to substitute fishmeal and fish oil in salmon feed.

Education: Support for the Initiative members to develop their knowledge on alternatives to fishmeal and fish oil, in particular by co-developing with ingredient manufacturers technical sheets analyzing environmental, social and economic impacts of novel ingredients.

Consumer study: We are studying French consumers' perceptions and acceptability of various alternatives to fishmeal and fish oil by carrying out a nationwide consumer survey.

The aim is to give the Initiative’s members the keys they need to make informed decisions about the adoption of novel ingredients and to adapt strategies in line with market expectations.

More Information

If you would like more information about this initiative, please contact the coordinators:

News & Stories

Apr 27, 2022

BioMar and Earthworm Foundation Launch Responsibly Sourced Shrimp Project

Mar 17, 2021

NGOs disappointed with lack of tangible outcomes and IOTC members' unwillingness to compromise sufficiently

Oct 22, 2020

IPNLF and Earthworm Foundation strengthen collaboration in French tuna markets