Stop selling fish raised from West African fishmeal, supermarkets say
Environmental activists are calling on UK supermarkets to end sales of farmed meat and fish made from West African fishmeal and fish oil.
Research by Greenpeace Africa found that the amount of fish mined from the region by industrial ships to be crushed for use in agriculture and aquaculture could feed 33 million people each year.
He found that more than half a million tonnes of small pelagic fish – species that live in the upper open ocean – are taken from the region each year.
Besides animal husbandry, fish meal and oil are also commonly used in dietary supplements, pet foods, and cosmetics.
The production of fishmeal and fish oil in West Africa has increased tenfold over the past decade, from 13,000 tonnes in 2010 to more than 170,000 tonnes in 2019, according to the research.
But Greenpeace, working with the Netherlands-based organization Changing Markets, found the industry was wreaking havoc among coastal communities in Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia.
They said over-extraction put millions of people at risk of food insecurity and made local small-scale fishermen and those involved in smoking and drying the catch unemployed.
Processing plants producing fishmeal and fish oil have also been blamed for a sharp increase in air pollution and contamination of waterways near their sites.
Aquaculture production was worth US $ 263.6 billion (£ 185.8 billion) in 2018, according to research, and nearly a fifth of the global wild fish catch is processed into fishmeal and fish oil .
The report, Feeding a Monster: How European Feed Industries Steal Food from West African Communities, found that 70% of all Mauritanian fish oil exports were destined for the EU in 2019.
The four largest European aquafeed companies reported combined revenue of $ 3.3 billion (£ 2.3 billion) in 2017.
Globally, 69% of fishmeal and 75% of fish oil is used for aquatic feed to produce farmed fish, such as salmon and trout.
Currently, half of all fish consumed globally each year are farmed, according to research, with that number expected to reach 60% by 2030.
Much of the remaining fishmeal is used in agriculture, mainly for feeding pigs.
Greenpeace Africa and the changing markets are now calling for a 50% reduction in industrial fishing in the region to allow stocks to rebuild.
They want to see stricter and well-enforced regulations in West Africa and the EU to prevent over-exploitation in the future and to prevent fishmeal and petroleum products from unsustainable sources from entering the market. EU market.
The two organizations are calling for a ban on fish suitable for human consumption used for fishmeal and fish oil, and for the granting of official legal status to small-scale fishermen and local processors to protect their rights to their fisheries.
Greenpeace Africa and Changing Markets also want EU registered fleets to be banned from fishing in the West African region unless a comprehensive management program to protect fish stocks is put in place. in place.
Fishermen in India, Vietnam and The Gambia, many of whom work in the fishmeal and fish oil industry, told Changing Markets researchers that they are already witnessing the collapse of key fish stocks .
Some have admitted that they are probably the last generation involved in fishing, the researchers said.
Dr Ibrahime Cisse, senior activist for Greenpeace Africa, said: “The fishmeal and fish oil industry, and all the governments and businesses that support them, fundamentally deprive local people of livelihoods and food in contradiction with international commitments in terms of sustainable development and poverty reduction. , food security and gender equality. “
Alice Delemare Tangpuori, Campaigns Manager at Changing Markets, said: “European aquafeed companies and retailers can no longer ignore this major human rights and environmental issue.
“The time has come to rethink supply chains and quickly phase out the use of wild fish in farmed fish and other animals, in order to preserve these fish populations for future generations.”
Harouna Ismail Lebaye, president of the Nouadhibou branch of the Mauritanian free artisanal fishing federation, told companies and governments involved in the industry: “Your investments rob us of our fishery resources, your investments starve us, your investments threaten our stability, your factories are making us sick. It’s time to stop now.