Fisheries ceiling reached

Publish date: January 10, 2009

In intensive fish farming, such as farming of salmonids in Norway, fish meal and fish oil are used in the fish feed. This chapter provides an overview of the world’s largest manufacturers of fish meal and oil. The main emphasis is on the stocks that are mainly used in this production, the condition of these stocks and an evaluation of whether their management can be viewed as sustainable.

The world’s total catch of fish
In the period from 1950 to the end of the 1980s catch statistics show a gradual increase from approximately 20 million tonnes up to approximately 90 million tonnes. From the end of the 1980s up to today we have also, according to FAO statistics, seen an increase in the catch. If we are to believe the statistics, the increase in the last 20 years is solely due to China’s fishing industry. However, several doubt the country’s reports (Watsen & Pauly, 2001). Disregarding China’s catch, the world’s total fish catch has declined from the end of the 1980s until today. The last 10-15 years can indicate that the world’s total catch of fish has reached a level of approximately 100 million tonnes annually. Bearing in mind that 75 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are fully taxed, overtaxed or need time to rebuild after collapsing (FAO, 2002a), there is little to indicate that we can expect an increase in the total catch. It is more natural to ask whether the current catch level is sustainable or whether we will see a decline in the fish stocks in consequence of too high fishing pressure.

Fishing nations
Atlantic herring Northwest Atlantic (21) Canada, USA U-F-R
Atlantic menhaden Northwest Atlantic (21) USA F
Atlantic mackerel Northwest Atlantic (21) Canada, USA F
Capelin Northwest Atlantic (21) Canada F
Blue whiting Northeast Atlantic (27) Norway, Russian Fed., Iceland, Faero Islands O
Norway pout Northeast Atlantic (27) Denmark, Norway ?-F
Sandeels Northeast Atlantic (27) Denmark, Norway, Sweden F
Atlantic herring Northeast Atlantic (27) Norway, Iceland, Russian Fed., Denmark F
European pilchard Northeast Atlantic (27) Portugal, Spain, France, UK ?-F
European sprat Northeast Atlantic (27) Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Latvia ?-F
Atlantic horse mackerel Northeast Atlantic (27) Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, France F
Atlantic mackerel Northeast Atlantic (27) UK, Norway, Ireland, Russian Fed. F
Capelin Northeast Atlantic (27) Iceland, Norway, Russian Fed. F
Atlantic menhaden West/mid Atlantic (31) USA F
Atlantic thread mackerel West/mid Atlantic (31) USA, Cuba ?
Gulf menhaden West/mid Atlantic (31) USA F
Round sardinella West/mid Atlantic (31) Venezuela M/F
Japanese anchovy Northwest Pacific (61) China, Japan, Korea Rep. F
Japanese pilchard Northwest Pacific (61)  China, Japan M
Chub mackerel Northwest Pacific (61)  China, Japan, Korea Rep. F
Japanese jack mackerel Northwest Pacific (61)  Japan, Korea Rep. F
Alaska pollock Northeast Pacific (67) USA F
Pacific herring Northeast Pacific (67) USA, Canada M-O
California pilchard East/Mid Pacific (77) Mexico, USA M-F
California anchovy East/Mid Pacific (77) USA, Mexico M-F
Pacific anchoveta East/Mid Pacific (77) Panama M-F
Pacific thread mackerel East/Mid Pacific (77) Panama M-F
Chub Mackerel East/Mid Pacific (77) Mexico, USA M
Pacific jack mackerel East/Mid Pacific (77) USA U
Anchoveta Southeast Pacific (87) Peru, Chile R-O
Araucinan herring Southeast Pacific (87) Chile F-O
Pacific thread herring Southeast Pacific (87) Ecuador F
South American pilchard  Southeast Pacific (87) Chile, Peru, Ecuador F-O
Chilean jack mackerel Southeast Pacific (87) Chile, Peru F-O
Chub mackerel Southeast Pacific (87) Chile, Peru M-F

*U-underexploited, M-moderately exploited, F-fully exploited, O-overexploited, D-depleted, R-recovering

Source: Review of the state of world marine fishery resources. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 457. Rome, FAO. 235p.

One-third of the catch is ground
Fishmeal and fish oil are important protein and fat sources for the fish farming industry. Of the world’s total catch of fish, approximately 30 per cent goes to produce fishmeal and fish oil. In 2001, 29.4 million tonnes of a total catch of 91.3 million tonnes were used for this purpose. In recent years this percentage has varied between 25-35 million tonnes (FAO, 2002a). Fishing activities in the Southeast Pacific and Northeast Atlantic are the main sources of the world’s production of fishmeal and oil. On the west coast of South America, Peru and Chile fish the Peruvian anchovy (Engraulis ringens), sardines (Sardinesops sagax) and Chilean mackerel (Trachurus murphyi). In Europe, capelin (Mallotus villosus), blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), herring (Clupea harengus), small sandeel (Ammodytes tobianus), lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus), horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), mackerel (Scomber scombrus), Norway pout (Trisopterus esmarkii) and European sprat (Sprattus sprattus) go in varying degrees for the production of fishmeal and oil (FIN, 2003).

Production of fishmeal and fish oil on a world basis
Since the early 1980s, the annual production of fishmeal has remained at around 6.5 million tonnes. Peru is completely dominant with its fishmeal production of more than 2.2 million tonnes, equivalent to approximately 30 per cent of the world’s output.

Annual production of marine oil has varied at around 1.2 million tonnes. In certain years, the meteorological phenomenon El Niño has dramatically reduced production, particularly in 1998 (FAO, 2000a). With approximately 45 per cent of the world’s output, Peru is also the leader in the production of marine oil.

Fishmeal and fish oil are important sources of fat and protein for farmed fish, although other industries also use these resources. The trend, however, is clear: more and more of the world’s fishmeal and oil are used in aquaculture. In 2000, 35 per cent of the fishmeal and 57 per cent of the fish oil were used in aquaculture. IFFO expects that this will increase, respectively, to 56 per cent and 98 per cent in 2010.