“We are delighted with the interest in the Improvers’ Programme, much of which is being driven by feed manufacturers, who are looking for responsibly sourced fishmeal and oil to go into their diets.” Dr. Andrew Jackson, Chairman of IFFO RS
Encouraging responsible fishmeal and fish oil production
Great strides have been made by the aquaculture industry to improve its responsible practices in recent years, with substantial efforts focused on encouraging marine ingredient suppliers to ensure that they source raw materials from well-managed, sustainable fisheries.
IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organisation has been at the forefront of this progress, most notably with the 2009 introduction of its Global Standard for Responsible Supply (IFFO RS), an independent certification programme for marine ingredient production. Today, IFFO RS has two standards: The Global Standard for Responsible Supply and the Chain of Custody for Responsible Supply. By the end of 2017, between 45 and 50% of the world’s combined production of fish meal and fish oil were IFFO RS compliant.
Dr. Andrew Jackson, Chairman of IFFO RS, explains that from the programme’s outset, many of the larger fisheries supplying marine ingredients, predominantly those in Europe and the Americas, met the standard by making relatively few adjustments, while those presently going through the assessment were engaged with the programme but needed time to make the larger improvements. In addition, there are several fisheries that require a FIP and consequently have a lot further to go before they can be formally assessed. An Improvers’ Programme was expressly developed to help the latter progress towards the standard.
“To be accepted on the Improvers’ Programme, all applicants need to set up a credible project with their government, the fishermen, environmental NGOs and fisheries experts, along with agreed milestones and a timeframe – usually around five years – that will eventually lead them to meet the requirements of the IFFO RS standard,” says Jackson.
To date, a Panamanian fishery is the only one to go through this process successfully. However, talks are ongoing in a number of countries, including some in Africa and Asia. “Establishing a credible, government-supported FIP can be a lengthy process, but we are hoping that by the end of 2018 we will have more fisheries working towards our standard,” says Jackson.
At the same time, IFFO RS is working with stakeholders and fisheries experts to create and pilot its first version of a mixed trawl element of the standard. While these fisheries have faced heavy criticism for their environmental and social practices, Jackson says there is strong confidence that with the right management measures in place and with great care, they can go on to supply responsible raw materials. Reflecting on his career in the feed and aquaculture sectors, soon-to-retire Jackson maintains that through scientific and nutritional advances the industry as a whole has come a long way, but that marine ingredients still have an essential part to play in its future successes.
“Marine ingredients are increasingly becoming specialist products for use in vital growth stages. And because they are being included at lower levels, suppliers need to make sure the quality is high and that includes ensuring they come from responsible sources and that full traceability and chain of custody are in place,” he says.