The status of wild capture fisheries has induced many fisheries and conservation scientists to express concerns about the concept of using forage fish after reduction to fishmeal and fish oil, as feed for farmed animals, particularly in aquaculture. However, a very large quantity of forage fish is being also used untransformed (fresh or frozen) globally for other purposes, such as the pet food industry. So far, no attempts have been made to estimate this quantum, and have been omitted in previous fishmeal and fish oil exploitation surveys. On the basis of recently released data on the Australian importation of fresh or frozen fish for the canned cat food industry, here we show that the estimated amount of raw fishery products directly utilized by the cat food industry equates to 2.48 million metric tonnes per year. This estimate, plus the previously reported global fishmeal consumption for the production of dry pet food suggest that 13.5% of the total 39.0 million tonnes of wild caught forage fish is used for purposes other than human food production. This study attempts to bring forth information on the direct use of fresh or frozen forage fish in the pet food sector that appears to have received little attention to this date and that needs to be considered in the global debate on the ethical nature of current practices on the use of forage fish, a limited biological resource.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
ABARE. (2005). Australian food statistics 2005. Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Alder, J., & Pauly, D. (2006). On the multiple uses of forage fish: From ecosystems to markets. The Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 14(3). Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Aldhous, P. (2004). Fish farms still ravage the sea. Sustainable aquaculture takes one step forward, two steps back. Nature Online, 17 February 2004. doi:10.1038/news040216-10.
Barlow, S. (2002). Resources and markets: The world market overview of fish meal and fish oil. In 2nd Seafood By-products Conference, 10–13 November 2002, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.
Bernstein, P. L. (2005). The human-cat relationship. In I. Rochlitz (Ed.), The welfare of cats (pp. 47–90). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
Combelles, E. (2004a). Pet accessories on the rise. London, UK: Euromonitor International Plc.
Combelles, E. (2004b). The premiumisation of private label in pet food. London, UK: Euromonitor International Plc.
De Silva, S. S., & Anderson, T. A. (1995). Fish nutrition in aquaculture. London, UK: Chapman & Hall.
De Silva, S. S., & Sim, S. Y., & Turchini, G. M. (2008). Review on usage of fish, directly and indirectly, as feed ingredients and feeds in Asian- Pacific aquaculture. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper (in press).
Euromonitor. (2007). Cats: Euromonitor international from trade sources. Date exported (GMT/BST): 04/10/2007 04:03:54. London, UK: Euromonitor International Plc.
FAO. (1986). The production of fishmeal and oil. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, 142, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Rome, Italy.
FAO. (2007a). The state of fisheries and aquaculture 2006. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.
FAO. (2007b). FISHSTAT plus: Universal software for fishery statistical time series. Version 2.3. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Fisheries Department, Fishery Information, Data and Statistical Unit. http://www.fao.org/fi/statist/statist.asp.
FAO. (2007c). FAOSTAT database, food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, Online database. http://faostat.fao.org/.
Gatlin, D. M., III, Barrows, F. T., Brown, P., Dabrowski, K., Gaylord, T. G., Hardy, R. W., Herman, E., Hu, G., Krogdahl, A., Nelson, R., Overturf, K., Rust, M., Sealey, W., Skonberg, D., Souza, E. J., Stone, D., Wilson, R., & Wurtele, E. (2007). Expanding the utilization of sustainable plant products in aquafeeds: A review. Aquaculture Research, 38, 551–579.
Gehlhar, M., & Coyle, W. (2001). Global food consumption and impacts on trade patterns. In A. Regmi (Ed.), Changing structure of global food consumption and trade (pp. 4–13). Washington, DC, USA: Market and Trade Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Trade Report. WRS-01-1, 2001.
Gooley, G. J., Gavine, F. M., & Olsen, L. (2006) Biological systems to improve quality and productivity of recycled urban wastewater; a case study from our rural landscape sub-project 1.3. Victoria, Australia: Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
Hasan, M. R. (2008). FAO workshop report: “Use of wild fish and/or other aquatic species to feed cultured fish and its implications to food security and poverty alleviation.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Kochi, India, 16–18 November 2007. FAO Fisheries Circular (in press).
INFOFISH. (2007). 2006/Prices, INFOFISH International 2/2007. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Naylor, R. L., Goldburg, R. J., Primavera, J., Kautsky, N., Beveridge, M. C. M., Clay, J., Folkes, C., Lubchence, J., Mooney, H., & Troell, M. (2000). Effects of aquaculture on world food supplies. Nature, 405, 1017–1024.
Pauly, D., Christensen, V., Guénette, S., Pitcher, T. J., Sumaila, U. R., Walters, C. J., Watson, R., & Zeller, D. (2002). Towards sustainability in world fisheries. Nature, 418, 689–695.
Powell, K. (2003). Fish farming: Eat your veg. Nature, 426, 378–379.
RSBP. (2004). Assessment of the sustainability of industrial fisheries producing fish meal and fish oil. Bedfordshire, UK: Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management ltd and the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. RSBP Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Shepherd, C. J., Pike, I. H., & Barlow, S. M. (2005). Sustainable feed resources of marine origin. In B. Howell & R. Flos (Eds.), Aquaculture Europe 2005: Lessons from the past to optimise the future (pp. 59–66). Trondheim, Norway: European Aquaculture Society; Special Publication no. 35.
Swick, R. A., & Cremer, M. C. (2001). Livestock production: A model for aquaculture? Guest lecture. In R. P. Subasinghe, P., Bueno, M. J. Phillips, C. Hough, S. E. McGladdery, & J. R. Arthur (Eds.), Aquaculture in the third millennium (pp. 49–60). Bangkok, Thailand: Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific, NACA; Department of Fihseries—Thailand; Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations, FAO.
Tacon, A. G. J. (2004). Use of fish meal and fish oil in aquaculture: A global perspective Aquatic Resources Culture and Development, 1, 3–14.
Tacon, A. G. J. (2007). Meeting the feed supply challenges. In Paper Presented at the Global Trade Conference on Aquaculture, Qingdao, China, 29–31 May, 2007.
Tacon, A. G. J., Hasan, M. R., & Subasinghe, R. P. (2006). Use of fishery resources as feed inputs to aquaculture development: Trends and policy implications. Rome, Italy: FAO Fisheries Circular No. 1018, FAO Fisheries Department; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Walther, G. R., Post, E., Convey, P., Menzel, A., Parmesan, C., Beebee, T. J. C., Fromentin, J. M., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., & Bairlein, F. (2002). Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature, 416, 389–395.
Watson, R., & Pauly, D. (2001). Systematic distortions in world fisheries catch trends Nature, 414, 534–536.
Zuang, J. (2005). China: Changing attitudes to pet ownership drive pet food sales. London, UK: Euromonitor International Plc.
Giovanni M. Turchini’s contribution to this study was made whilst holding an APD Discovery, Post Doctoral Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC) for the project DP0772271 and the latter support is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also wish to thank the promoters and the organizers of the FAO expert workshop “Use of Wild Fish and/or Other Aquatic Species to Feed Cultured Fish and its Implications to Food Security and Poverty Alleviation” held in Kochi, India, 16–18 November 2007, for the remarkable work implemented and the significant effort spent towards a more ethical use of wild caught fish, and an anonymous reviewer for calling our attention to the Alder and Pauly Report.
About this article
Cite this article
De Silva, S.S., Turchini, G.M. Towards Understanding the Impacts of the Pet Food Industry on World Fish and Seafood Supplies. J Agric Environ Ethics 21, 459–467 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-008-9109-6
- Forage fish
- Low valued fish
- Pet food industry
- Trash fish