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Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients makes recommendations for West Africa

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Members of the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients welcome the FAO report Socio-economic and biological impacts of the fish-based feed industry for sub-Saharan Africa. The report presents an objective assessment of regional challenges and provides an important platform to guide continued engagement. The Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients was formed as a precompetitive platform to drive social and environmental improvements in key fisheries and regions globally, with West Africa a top priority.  

The report helps fill important information gaps around the environmental and socio-economic impacts of regional fisheries. It also highlights the contrasts between West African countries and the varying role local seafood plays in society and national economies. The report also makes clear that strengthening regional cooperation on fisheries management is critical to restoring depleted fisheries and addressing related socio-economic impacts. While calling attention to the additional challenges created by the rapid expansion of the marine ingredients sector in the region, the report overlooks the promising contribution that can be made by incentive mechanisms like Fishery Improvement Projects (FIP), such as the ongoing one in Mauritania. This FIP is driven by companies that want to source ingredients from responsibly managed fisheries and has stated goals to not only improve fisheries management but to refocus fisheries on direct human consumption. 

“Members of the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients are adamant that the fishmeal and fish oil industry shouldn’t undermine food security. As illustrated in Morocco and on other continents, a fishmeal industry, in conjunction with effective fishery management, is to be welcomed as one facet of a gradual transition away from over-reliance on subsistence farming and fishing towards the output of value-added products to satisfy both export markets and local production of animal and fish feeds. The efficiency of modern aquaculture and feed formulation ensures that every 1 kg of fish used in fish diets results in much more than 1kg of farmed fish production,” said Arni Mathiesen, Independent Chair of the Roundtable. 

Members of the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients support the following recommendations based on those in the report and are exploring how to best support implementation moving forward:

  • Direct regulatory efforts towards effective regional and national fishery management, including regular assessment of key stocks of fish and effective monitoring of harvest and post-harvest activities. This will in turn ensure the evolution of sustainable fish supplies for local consumption as well as a sustainable value-added sector for both human consumption and marine ingredients. It is important to ensure that 100% of the potential fish nutrition, from well-managed fisheries, is utilized once the fish are caught. This is in line with FAO’s recommendation for future research #1. 
  • Assess and monitor fish consumption, affordability and importance for food security and nutrition. This will enhance understanding of the situation in each country, and help guide solutions and improvements. This is in line with FAO’s recommendation for future research #2. 
  • Promote better fish harvesting and post-harvesting methods to reduce bycatches and losses. Together with refocusing relevant fisheries on human consumption, this will improve the availability and quality of fish for human consumption while increasing the amount and quality of byproducts that can be used for the production of marine ingredients.  This is in line with FAO’s recommendation for decision-making #2. 

The Roundtable is also preparing to expand regional due diligence efforts to better understand how member and related supply chains fit into the overall situation in West Africa, and what opportunities there are for Roundtable Members to best support improvements.  

Members of the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients are Global Seafood Alliance, Nestlé, Federation of European Aquaculture Producers, Olvea, MarinTrust, IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organisation, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Biomar, Cargill, Skretting, and Aquaculture Stewardship Council. 

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