Companies must disclose more on key aquaculture impacts
According to FAO statistics, global aquaculture production has doubled over the last 20 years. As the environmental footprint of aquaculture is regarded lower than for other farmed animal protein sectors, the aquaculture industry can play an important role in achieving food system transformation. The aquaculture industry however also faces several challenges such as reducing the use of antibiotics and ensuring that animal welfare issues are addressed. Also, high-risk commodities such as soya and palm oil are used as ingredients for aquaculture feed production. Companies that farm or source aquaculture products therefore have a responsibility to ensure these impacts are mitigated.
Even though several companies have certified aquaculture products in their portfolio (e.g., Aquaculture Stewardship Council or Best Aquaculture Practices), our research shows that only few companies are providing additional disclosure on how they are addressing and progressing on key aquaculture impacts. For instance, antimicrobial resistance is regarded as a significant public health threat but only about 30% of the companies have a policy on reducing the use of antibiotics as a prophylactic or growth promoting substance. Similarly, only 37% of the companies demonstrate a commitment on addressing animal welfare issues in their own operations or supply chain. When it comes to using soya and palm oil for feed production 43% of the companies show that they are working towards deforestation-conversion free (DCF) supply chains. However, only two companies (Austevoll Seafood and Mowi) demonstrate leading practices in this area, by having DCF targets for all their relevant high-risk commodities and reporting against these targets.
The use of marine and alternative ingredients in feed
Around 10% of global seafood production is used to produce marine ingredients such as fish oil and fish meal, which are important nutritious components in the production of aquaculture feed for piscivorous species such as salmon. However, due to concerns of overfishing and the potential competition for fish resources between feed production and human consumption, aquaculture and feed-producing companies can actively contribute to improving the sustainability of feed production through more efficient feed use, reduction of the use of marine ingredients and integrating more sustainable alternative ingredients with similar nutritional values. Our research shows that only 5 out of 20 the aquaculture and feed companies (Austevoll Seafood, BioMar, Cargill, Thai Union, Nutreco) demonstrate multiple efforts to address this issue.