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.
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.
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.
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.