Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish free feed are already made for the many vegetarian fish farmed worldwide. Carnivorous fish can also be fed vegetable based diets but this may cause slow growth and gut inflammation. The sustainability of vegetable ingredients is far from clear, while over 40% of the global production of fishmeal and fish oil is certified as responsibly sourced under an independent, third party scheme (see video link) – more than any of the alternatives.
Over 35% (and growing) of the global production of fishmeal and fish oil comes from recycled by-products from fish processing. Encouraging non fish alternatives reduces the opportunity for recycling. The whole fish that are used typically are small and bony have little or no direct human consumption market despite many years of promotion and marketing.
The best source of essential Omega 3 fats is fish oil which can only be produced in conjunction with fishmeal – reduce the market for fishmeal and there is less Omega 3 available.
No-one wants to see the growth of aquaculture restricted and a wide range of feed ingredients is needed. However, discouraging the use of one of the best performing ingredients - responsibly sourced marine proteins and oils - for which there is no human consumption market when the alternatives can cause fish health problems and may be less sustainable makes little sense.