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Farmed fish feeding. (Photo: WorldFish)

IFFO clarifies FFDR's relationship with sustainable aquaculture

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 21:40 (GMT + 9)

IFFO, the Marine Ingredients Organization, has published a position paper analyzing the forage fish dependency ratio (FFDR), to explain how it is calculated and its actual relationship to the sustainability of aquaculture, to "provide clear information on this complex debate".

The FFDR is an index that describes the amount of wild fish used in feed in relation to the number of farmed fish produced. IFFO notes that it is a term often used in the dialogue on the sustainability of fed aquaculture, but caution should be exercised in interpreting the information.

In this regard, it explains that the figures produced for the FFDR should not be examined in isolation, and the values for the FFDR should not be used directly as measures of environmental sustainability.

Fishmeal and fish oil produced from forage fish stocks provide a substantial contribution to global food production and are thus essential in meeting the nutritional requirements of billions of people around the world, the international organization says.

According to IFFO, the use of the term FFDR confuses the issue by incorrectly assuming that species used in marine ingredient production would have a higher value to society in other areas, such as direct consumption markets, or environmental benefits through conservation.

In this regard, IFFO’s document clarifies that whenever fishmeal and fish oil are produced from well managed fisheries or from byproduct from fish from well-managed fisheries, their use in aquafeeds is valid.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is currently requesting comments on the FFDR in its Salmon Standard, which is open and reflects an ASC’s proposal to further reduce FFDR requirements for fishmeal and fish oil.

IFFO notes that at a time when salmon farmers want to differentiate their product through higher inclusions of marine ingredients in their feeds, FFDR and the establishment of values in the ASC Salmon Standard really deny that opportunity to aquaculture farmers wishing to achieve ASC certification and produce a premium niche product, even if it is a small proportion of overall production and has little effect on the global supply of fishmeal and fish oil.

"There is often a lot of focus on the term FFDR in analyses of fed aquaculture’s environmental impact, but in reality the concept has little bearing on the harvest levels of forage fish populations although it was constructed to do exactly that," Neil Auchterlonie, technical director of IFFO stresses.



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