Feed and feed resources

The aquaculture industry in Norway is mainly based on species high in the food chain. Salmon, trout and cod are species that depend on being fed with a high energy feed brought to the farm from a feed factory. Traditionally this feed has been based solely on marine resources mainly from fishing in the North Atlantic and the fishing areas on the west coast of South America. In today’s aquafeeds large parts of the marine raw materials have been replaced by raw materials with a land based origin. The trend is that more and more of the farmed fishes feed will be based on vegetable and animal resources.

The growth in aquaculture has sharply increased demand for aquafeed and suitable feed resources. About one third of all fish capture in the world oceans is used to produce fish meal and fish oil. These are very important ingredients for the feed industry and most of it is used in aquaculture. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the fish species used for the production of feed is either fully utilized or overfished. A growing aquaculture industry can therefore not be supported by an increase in fisheries capture.

Norway is the world largest salmon farming nation and therefore a big consumer of feed and feed resources. The consumption has increased steadily with the continuous production growth. In 2007 Norwegian fish farmers used in excess of 1 100 000 tonnes of food. This represents more than five times as much than in the beginning of the 90s. One of the aquaculture industry’s greatest challenges is to find sustainable resources to support a growing industry.

In addition to the high pressure on traditional marine resources this raises a number of other potentially difficult issues. Many vegetable raw materials in the global marketplace is genetically modified (GMO). Is it desirable to use this type of ingredients in aquaculture? The growth in aquaculture will make this an increasingly relevant issue. Should one use vegetable oils to produce fish feed, biofuel or use it for human consumption? Or is there room for all three? Is it correct to use fish protein to "create" fish protein? Is it a limit, based on the availability of resources, for how big the aquaculture industry should be? Hopefully, the information on these pages can help to answer some of these and other questions related to feed and feed resources.