Fish as feed: Using economic allocation to quantify the Fish in : Fish out ratio of major fed aquaculture species



Kok B, Malcorps W, Tlusty MF, Eltholth MM, Auchterlonie NA, Little DC, Harmsen R, Newton RW & Davies SJ (2020) Fish as feed: Using economic allocation to quantify the Fish in : Fish out ratio of major fed aquaculture species. Aquaculture, 528, Art. No.: 735474.

Efficiency assessments of marine ingredient use in aquaculture are required to fully understand their contribution to global seafood supply and their impacts on all UN Sustainable Development Goals. Fish In: Fish Out (FIFO) ratios have become the principal metric used to ensure aquaculture does not negatively impact wild fish stocks. However, several approaches have been advocated to calculate the FIFO ratio and there have been criticisms that the different approaches employed lead to over- or under- estimates of the dependence of aquaculture on marine ingredients. Critically, FIFO does not align with Life Cycle Assessment as a measure of other environmental impacts. In this paper we present an alternative method to calculate the FIFO ratio based on the principle of economic allocation (economic Fish In: Fish Out – eFIFO) as commonly used in Life Cycle Assessments. Economic allocation acts as a proxy for the nutritional value of ingredients and places higher importance on the more limiting co-products generated and their relative demand. Substitution of marine ingredients by alternate feed ingredients has significantly reduced the amount of fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeed formulations for most farmed fish species, resulting in a continually decreasing FIFO ratio. Results show that most aquaculture species groups assessed in this study are net producers of fish, while salmon and trout aquaculture are net neutral, producing as much fish biomass as is consumed. Overall, global fed-aquaculture currently produces three to four times as much fish as it consumes. Tracking historical prices of fish oil against fishmeal, the relative higher price of fish oil leads to relatively higher allocation of fish to fish oil compared to fishmeal. This leads to relatively higher eFIFO for species with high fish oil requirements.

FIFO; Marine ingredients; LCA; Fish use; By-products

Aquaculture: Volume 528

FundersEuropean Union's Horizon 2020 research
Publication date15/11/2020
Publication date online17/05/2020
Date accepted by journal11/05/2020
PublisherElsevier BV

People (3)


Professor Dave Little

Professor Dave Little

Professor, Institute of Aquaculture

Dr Wesley Malcorps

Dr Wesley Malcorps

Research Fellow, Institute of Aquaculture

Dr Richard Newton

Dr Richard Newton

Lecturer in Resilient Food Systems, Institute of Aquaculture