The US Department of Agriculture is trying to reduce the amount of fish meal and fish oil contained in aquaculture feeds while, at the same time, maintaining the human health benefits of farmed seafood. How are they doing? Here are the numbers:
It is estimated that the amount of fish meal in salmon diets has dropped from being 70% of the diet in the 1980s to about 25% in 2017.
Traditionally, diets for farmed carnivorous fish contained about 30% to 50% fish meal and oil, but today some carnivorous species are fed no fish meal or oil.
Researchers are working to identify combinations of ingredients that can achieve the balance of the 40 essential nutrients that fish meal and fish oil have.
About 70% of the fish meal and oil used for aquaculture feed are produced from the harvest of small, open-ocean (pelagic) fish such as anchovies, herring, and mackerel.
The remaining 30% comes from leftover scraps from seafood processing.
Menhaden caught off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico are the source of most fish meal and oil production in the US.
The cost of feed makes up 60% of the total cost of farming fish.
— Source: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration