Oreochromis / Sarotherodon / Tilapia spp.
Fish Meal and Fish Oil
Marine ingredients such as Fishmeal (FM) and Fish Oil (FO) provide nutrients that often cannot be found in other feed materials (e.g. particular amino acids, vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids), and they are essential constituents of many aquafeeds. FM and FO are a finite resource and are seen by the aquaculture industry as a strategic ingredient to be used efficiently and replaced where possible1.
Globally the FM and FO used in aquafeeds is increasingly derived from fishery and aquaculture processing by-product; the utilisation of these by-products as a raw material for FM and FO production is in the region of 25%-35% and this trend will continue; it is expected to rise to 49% by 20221, 2, 3. In addition, today’s commercial aquafeeds for many species have advanced to reduce FM inclusion rates and raise vegetable ingredient content2.
IFFO The Marine Ingredients Organisation4 (formerly known as The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation or IFFO) estimate that if aquaculture is taken as a whole, producing one tonne of fed farmed fish (excluding filter feeding species) now takes 0.22 tonnes of whole wild fish. This essentially means that for every 0.22kg of whole wild fish used in FM production, a kilo of farmed fish is produced; in other words, for every 1 kg of wild fish used 4.5 kg of farmed fish is produced5.
FM in East and SE Asia is often (but not always) derived from local reduction or ‘trash fish fisheries’, which are sometimes unregulated6, 7. Consequently, traceability and origin of aquatic ingredients is an important factor in the sustainability of tilapia operations. Perhaps the most important mitigation measure is to ensure that products such as FM and FO used to manufacture aquafeed come from legal, reported and regulated fisheries. Such fishery products can demonstrate their sourcing adheres to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) “Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries”8, known as CCRF, through several mechanisms:
- The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)9 which certifies fisheries to an international standard based on FAO best-practice requirements
- IFFO RS Global Standard for Responsible Supply (IFFO RS)10 which certifies FM and FO through a process which includes the assessment of source fisheries against a set of CCRF-based requirements
- Information platforms such as FishSource11 or FisheryProgress12 which provide information and analysis without a certification or approval rating
Currently around 1.9 million tonnes of FM production are certified as either IFFO RS or MSC – representing about 40% of global production; most of this comes from South America, but Europe and North America are providing significant volumes, and North Africa currently has certified production. Currently there is no certified FM product produced in China and only very small quantities (less than 10,000 tonnes) are produced in the rest of Asia (and this is from by-products)1. Given that Asia as a whole produces around 1.5 million tonnes of FM there is room for improvement, both in the area of fisheries management and in certification uptake. Aquaculture certification schemes also require that fish products used in feeds are not on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red lists13 of threatened species or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)14 lists of endangered species.The use of genetically modified (GM) vegetable ingredients in animal feedstuffs (including aquafeed) is an ongoing area of debate15. Whilst some contend that GM soy can help support current levels of aquaculture, global attitudes and consumer perceptions about the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) vary in different parts of the world, with North American markets being far less averse than European ones. However, their use in all livestock feed is widespread, and in the EU food from animals fed on authorised GM crops is considered to be as safe as food from animals fed on non-GM crops16.
GM Feed Ingredients
The use of genetically modified (GM) vegetable ingredients in animal feedstuffs (including aquafeed) is an ongoing area of debate15. Whilst some contend that GM soy can help support current levels of aquaculture, global attitudes and consumer perceptions about the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) vary in different parts of the world, with North American markets being far less averse than European ones. However, their use in all livestock feed is widespread, and in the EU food from animals fed on authorised GM crops is considered to be as safe as food from animals fed on non-GM crops16.
Although tilapia are able to extract naturally occurring food from the water column, on most farms where tilapia are produced commercially and internationally traded, fish are fed intensively or semi-intensively with manufactured pelleted feed at least twice daily17. Feeding constitutes a major operating cost in tilapia farming, so understanding the nutritional requirements of tilapia at each life stage and having a feeding management strategy is essential for the economic, as well as environmental, sustainability of the operation18. The majority of tilapia farms feed extruded compound feeds designed to float, thus avoiding the build-up of uneaten feed in pond sediments and under net-pens. Although such feeds are generally more expensive, they are more readily digested and assimilated by the stock, resulting in less waste and ultimately better water quality. The efficiency of feed use on the farm should be monitored and should comply with levels set in certification standards. The indicators used can be FCR, economic feed conversion ratio (eFCR), maximum fish feed equivalence ratio (FFER), or fish in fish out (FIFO) ratio. Reported eFCRs for commercial feed can range from 1.2 to 1.9 depending on the farming system and management19, 20.
Currently FM and FO are included in commercial tilapia diets at levels between 0-20% and 0-10%, respectively, depending on the culture system and production stage. FM is generally only used for a short time in feeding younger tilapia stages, after which alternative high-protein ingredients, such as soybean meal, are substituted in diets18. Generally, tilapia grow-out aquafeeds contains relatively little FM or FO, unlike feeds for many other commercially important farmed species19, 20. In 2010 the average FM usage in commercial tilapia grow-out feed was 3%, which was predicted to decline further over the coming years. IFFO The Marine Ingredients Organisation estimate that in 2015 for every 0.15 kg of whole wild fish used in FM production for tilapia aquafeeds, a kilo of tilapia was produced5, i.e. there is a net gain of edible fish protein from tilapia aquaculture.
- REBYC-II CTI
- IFFO RS
- Sissener, N.H. et al, 2011. Genetically modified plants as fish feed ingredients. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2011, 68(3), p563-574
- Ng, W-K and Romano, N, 2013. A Review of the Nutrition and Feeding Management of Farmed Nile Tilapia Throughout the Culture Cycle. Reviews in Aquaculture, 5, 2013