Sustainable Feed

Farmed salmon is a highly nutritious and healthy source of protein, and a major contributing factor to this is the specialized diet of the fish, which is rich in nutrients and Omega-3s. Ensuring the future sustainability of these feed ingredients is very important to us as responsible farmers.

Sourcing of feed ingredients

Like many industries, our success relies on the availability and high quality of our raw materials. In the case of farmed salmon, this is the raw ingredients that make up our salmon feed. One major component of current salmon feed comes from wild fish in the form of fish meal and fish oil.

Krill is an important ingredient in aquaculture feed because of the nutritional benefits it provides for fish health. As a bottom feeding crustacean, krill is packed with vitamins, proteins, fats and omega-3s EPA and DHA. This nutrient package supports immunity, improves disease resistance, and helps salmon grow and thrive. It’s difficult to replicate the benefits that krill provide, and because krill play a pivotal role in marine ecosystems and carbon sequestration, GSI members recognize the importance of sustainable use and ensuring future plentiful stocks of krill. As part of our work, GSI member companies, alongside our feed associates, are committed to ensuring sustainable use of krill through several approaches, including:

  • Ensuring all krill are harvested in a responsible manner to preserve stocks, under strict supervision in line with regulated catch limits set by The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Any instance of bycatch is unacceptable and should result in immediate changes to processes and best practices by certification bodies to prevent another incident and to ensure responsible practices are not compromised.
  • Sourcing only Marin-Trust or MSC-certified Antarctic krill.
  • Supporting the creation of marine protected areas, including no-fishing areas in the Antarctic.
  • Continuing to evaluate alternative ingredients to replicate the nutritional benefits krill provide, such as algae.
  • Working with the ASC feed standard to ensure all feed ingredients are sourced from only responsible feed companies.

As the demand for protein grows, and in turn the salmon aquaculture industry grows to meet that demand, we know we cannot continue to use these resources to the same levels, and instead, we need to find innovative ways of promoting responsible use of such resources, and identify alternative sources to complement their use.

Innovation in feed ingredients

The use of marine ingredients in feed has decreased over the last 30 years as feed efficiency improves, alternatives are identified, and more industry by-products are used. Below is an example of salmon feed diet representative for Norway to illustrate the evolving diet of salmon feed. Source.

Our supply chains need to be transparent and demonstrate responsible use of resources. Which is why, through our partnerships with our Associate Members BioMar, Cargill, Skretting, and Salmofood, and our work with the ASC, we hope to accelerate development of new solutions and approaches to improving the sustainability of feed ingredients, while maintaining our position as an industry leader in environmental performance.

Feed ingredients play an important role in the efficiency of salmon farming and provide the salmon with all the protein and essential nutrients required for optimal health and growth and contribute to the many health benefits we get from eating salmon. For GSI, our role is to help the industry maintain this nutritional profile, while reducing environmental impacts.

Learn more about the areas where collaborative innovation is showing significant progress:

Playbook Graphics May4 202010

Improvements in Forage Fish Dependency Ratios (FFDR) and Feed Conversion Ratios (FCR)

Making sense of the acronyms:

FFDR is the amount of wild fish needed in feed to produce 1 kg of farmed salmon, and FCR is the amount of feed an animal requires to gain 1 kg of body weight. The lower the FFDR, the lower the inclusion percentage of wild fish; the lower the FCR, the more efficient an animal is in retaining the protein and energy from the feed and converting it into food for humans.

Thanks to ongoing innovations in salmon aquaculture over the past 20 years, the feed industry has reduced the amount of fish meal from 65% to 18%, and fish oil from 24% to 11%, and reduced FCR from 2.4:1 to 1.15:1, while maintaining optimal diets for the salmon.

As a fairly young industry, this is a significant development in a short space of time and we plan to continue these innovations to further reduce our impact on marine resources.

In addition, through our partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), we aim to transfer this knowledge to other developing aquaculture sectors, to promote improved sustainability across the sector as a whole.

Optimizing use of by-products

One new approach we are considering is harnessing the by-products (parts of fish not sold for human consumption, or caught but not sold) from other fisheries or aquaculture sectors and redirecting these from waste to become a resource.

Finding alternative sources of Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, usually obtained from the fish oil in salmon feed, can also be found in non-marine sources such as algae or from crops like canola. There is a great deal of innovation happening around the world to see if we can turn such alternatives into commercially viable options, which would allow us to maintain the high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in our feed, while reducing the use of marine ingredients.

In 2015, the GSI and its associated feed companies launched a global tender to help identify viable sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. The tender was highly successful in highlighting the growing industry need for novel resources, and prompted a significant increase in the variety and number of options available to the industry. The industry feed companies are now working with multiple providers to start the incorporation of these resources into industry feeds.

Certifications for sustainable feed ingredients

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has developed the ASC Feed Standard to certify that sourcing of feed ingredients and the feed mills they are processed in meet strict environmental and social requirements. GSI members are committed to working towards the ASC Salmon Standard across their farms. Our members and associate feed companies will be using this Standard as a framework to promote greater transparency in the supply chain and ensure that all ingredients are responsibly sourced.

Handbook Thumb

The GSI Handbook

Take a deeper look into the role farmed salmon can play in future food systems and the work we are doing to ensure our industry is adapting and improving at the speed and scale the world needs.

Read More

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