Europa – fishing for feed resources

Source: FAO Fishstat

Publish date: January 10, 2009

Europe has no "up-welling" area like that found in South America. The rich fishing in our waters is attributed to a wide continental shelf providing good growing conditions for fish.

Several species are used for the production of fish meal and oil. In industrial trawler fishing, it is mainly Norway pout (Trisopteirus esmarkii), small sandeel (Ammodytes spp.) and blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), in addition to capelin (Mallotus vollosus) and European sprat (Sprattus sprattus), that go for grinding.To a lesser degree this also includes herring (Clupes harengus), mackerel (Scomber scombrus) and horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) in the production of fish meal and oil.

Denmark is Europe’s largest producer of fish meal and fish oil, with 287,000 and 107,000 tonnes, respectively in 2006. Denmark exports most of its production to nations with large fish farming operations such as Norway. By European standards Norway and Iceland are also major producers of fish meal and oil.

Norway produced 170,000 tonnes of fish meal and 40,000 tonnes of fish oil in 2006. Because of the steadily growing fish farming industry our need for meal and oil is much larger than what we manage to produce ourselves. Norway is a net importer of both fish meal and oil, with most coming from the large fisheries off the west coast of South America. Based on the production, export and import of fish meal and oil in Norway we can estimate the amount of fish meal and oil used in Norway in 2006. The bulk of this is used in the production of fish feed for salmon and rainbow trout farming. Based on these estimates, Norway’s need for fish meal was 381,000 tonnes, oil 228,000 tonnes in 2006.

Lesser sandeel and small sandeel (tobis) – Ammodytes marinus & A. tobianus

bodytextimage_Capelin-in-the-Barents-Sea-tom-2006.jpg Photo: Source: FAO Fishstat

Blue whiting is a widely migratory stock that is mostly harvested in the spawning grounds west of the British Isles during last winter and early spring and in the southern Norwegian Sea later in the season. The blue whiting stock reached its historic high in 2003 and has since then been declining because of heavy fishing pressure. 2006 was the first year when the blue whiting fishery was regulated through international agreements, but this has not yet had a significant impact on the exploitation level. Norwegian catch in 2007 was around 539.000 tonnes, witch is about 45% less then the record in 2004. While recruitment was strong in all years from 1995 to 2005, recruitment in 2006 and 2007 seems weak. It is not yet known whether this is an exception or a sign of a shift back to the lower recruitment level typical for the pre-1995 period. Without a strong recruitment, the present exploitation level will result in a rapid decline of the stock. (IMR) 

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