Focus on sustainable feed

“Standards that are serious about sustainability should be controlled by the government and be science based. The industry should not certify itself.”
May 11, 2011

Focus on sustainable feed

“We can’t separate aquaculture from the rest of the picture - we’re all part of the same system,” Karl D. Shearer, feed scientist at the Aquaculture Protein Centre, said of sustainable aquafeeds at a recent feed seminar arranged in Norway by APC.

The seminar was held in concert with two doctoral dissertations on krill and lupins in feed production, and the opponents both from academia and industry were invited to speak at the seminar on a subject of their choice. Nearly all chose to talk about sustainability. This indicates how focused the aquaculture sector is on this issue.

The room was full and the presentations generated some interesting discussions. Participants came from industry, academia, research and public authorities.

Rounding off the seminar, Shearer gave an inspiring but challenging talk about the complexity of the term sustainability. He emphasized that the aquaculture industry interacts with a series of feed and food producers, and that you cannot look at aquafeed in isolation.

With more pressure on the world’s feed resources, it is difficult to achieve sustainable growth. “The world will need a 70% increase in food supply by 2050, and if we still want meat, farmed fish is a good option for growth in food supply when you look at energy efficiency. To produce more feed for aquaculture, we can use some ingredients people will not eat, but they are limited. Therefore, we have to use plant ingredients in fish feed, since they’re the largest available source of raw materials. So let’s face it, we are feeding food to fish,” said Shearer.

In the U.S., not one product is certified by the standards set by the government, but thousands of products are certified by standards offered by NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund. “WWF lets the industries set the standards for sustainability in order to sell more certification stamps,” said Shearer. “That is not sustainable and undermines the purpose of certification. To be certified sustainable will not be easy.”

More science and transparency So what can be done to make sure a certified product is sustainable?

 “Standards that are serious about sustainability should be controlled by the government and be science based. The industry should not certify itself,” says Shearer. “Scientists have a lot of expertise on sustainability, but are not listened to. The certification process should also be far more transparent so we know what aims the products need to fulfill, and who’s deciding what the aims are!”