November 12, 2015 — Despite great advances in aquafeed formulations aimed at lowering aquaculture’s dependence on wild-capture fishery resources, there is little doubt that fishmeal and fish oil still play a crucial role in the global seafood supply. The highly nutritious marine ingredients are chief components in the production of the world’s animal protein supply — some 20 percent of the global fishmeal supply goes to pig farmers, while high-quality fish oil remains in strong demand for direct human consumption as well.
The shape of the world’s reduction fisheries, therefore, has never been more important. Andrew Jackson, technical director at IFFO (The Marine Ingredients Organisation), recently spoke with the Advocate about the latest in reduction fisheries, the ever-increasing part that processing byproducts has to play and why fishmeal is so hard to replace, even for fish considered to be largely herbivorous.
Jackson announced earlier this year that he would step down from his post as technical director at the end of 2015, after nearly a decade of service. He will, however, take up the reins as chairman of the IFFO RS (Responsible Supply Certification Program) independent standards board. “It is my hope and intention to keep serving,” he said of his upcoming two-year appointment.
WRIGHT: What is the difference between “mining” a resource like a forage or reduction fishery and “cropping” it?
JACKSON: People often associate fishing with removing a resource as you would with mining. Like with coal, once it’s taken out of the ground, that’s it, unless you’ve got several million years to wait. You’re not going to get anything back; it’s a one-use resource. You can look at fisheries as, we’ve got this valuable thing, not in the ground but swimming around in the sea, and we can go out there, and we can take it out and we call sell it all and it’s worth this much. You can look at it like that.
But how much better to crop it, as you would a sustainably managed forest. You take it out at a rate at which it can be replenished by nature. That’s what the best management does. And that is when you become truly sustainable. In my book, sustainable means you can keep doing the same thing over and over again, year after year, and it’s always there. That’s what we should be looking to do, in any fishery, whether we’re taking it out for direct or indirect human consumption.