The feed in fish farming traditionally comes from a variety of sources, including wild caught fish, which each have their own impacts. Here’s how we make sure all feed is sourced responsibly and sustainably. 

A common concern about aquaculture is that, because most fish eat other fish, farming them still means depleting wild stocks for feed. In fact, wild caught fish is only one of many ingredients used in feed, and the proportion of feed that comes from wild caught fish has been falling for decades. Our Feed Standard ensures that every ingredient in the feed used by certified farms is responsibly sourced.

Levels of wild caught fish used in feed have been falling since the 1990s, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). And when wild-caught fish is used, it comes increasingly from by-products that would once have been thrown away – up to 35% of fish-based feed (fishmeal) now comes from such sources. The FAO says there is a “clear and downward trend” in the use of fishmeal and fish oil in feeds in the farmed seafood industry. 

How the ASC logo guarantees sustainable feed
Of course, that still means that when fishmeal or fish oil is used, it could be contributing to overfishing. And when you’re in the supermarket looking at a packet of farmed salmon, you can’t know if the farm in question used feed that came from unsustainable sources. 

That’s where the ASC logo comes in. It doesn’t just cover the direct impacts of the fish farm. With our Feed Standard, all ASC certified farms must use feed with fishmeal or fish oil that can be traced back to a sustainable fishery.

Non-fish ingredients in feed
But there are other ingredients in feed too, some of which may be used more as fishmeal and fish oil are used less. Some of the most common of these are wheat, rice, palm oil, canola and soy. 

All these ingredients can have environmental or social impacts too. Some of them, like palm oil, which is linked with the deforestation of rainforests, are well known. And it’s true that producing anything will create some impacts. But what the ASC Feed Standard does is to requires that all ingredients that make up over 1% of a feed must be traceable and responsibly sourced. Responsibly sourced doesn’t just mean environmentally sustainable – as with all of ASC’s  standards, it also covers social responsibility, such as the fair treatment and pay of workers.

The future of feed
Looking ahead, it’s very likely that the use of wild-caught fish for feed will continue to decrease. The aquaculture industry is quick to embrace new technologies and developments, and many feed companies are already pioneering new protein sources for fish feed, including insects and lab-grown sources. 

As these ingredients are used more widely, they could of course create their own impacts. But just like all ingredients, they will be covered by the ASC Feed Standard. 

Support responsible farming: Look for the logo!
Reducing the industry’s use of wild caught fish is one positive but there’s a lot more to making sure that fish are farmed responsibly. By buying only seafood products with the ASC logo, you can be sure that you are supporting farms that take a comprehensive, responsible approach – so you can enjoy your seafood safe in the knowledge that there are no hidden surprises.

Aquaculture explained

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