Most reduction fisheries that produce fishmeal and fish oil have already reached or exceeded sustainable catch levels and will be placed under further pressure as the aquaculture industry grows. At the same time that research into alternative sources of nutrition for piscivorous aquaculture species is progressing, several laws and regulations are taking shape that address the issue of aquaculture feed practices, including the U.S. National Offshore Aquaculture Act (H.R. 2010, S. 1609), the California Sustainable Oceans Act (SB 201), and the development of organic aquaculture standards by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Other nations with expanding aquaculture industries are also beginning to take notice of this issue and are investigating alternative feed sources.
At this pivotal time, the Stanford meeting will bring together a small group of forward-thinking researchers, environmental non-profits, aquaculture producers, feed developers, and others who are striving toward sustainable feed solutions. The goal is to develop recommendations and a guiding direction for achieving sustainable feed inputs, incorporating current science, economics, and policy. The meeting seeks to:
- Analyze current and future feed demands in the marine aquaculture sector. What percentage of fishmeal and fish oil inclusion is typical in feeds, and how much can that percentage be reduced?
- Assess the role of conventional fishmeal and fish oil and alternative sources of nutrition, such as krill, algae, other microbes, terrestrial plants, by-catch, and seafood and poultry processing wastes, both now and in the future. What are the prospects for continued use of wild-caught fish and how can these conventional feed sources be used more responsibly? What are the environmental impacts of each of the resources? What is the state of scientific knowledge, development, and availability of alternatives? How will market dynamics impact the transition from fishmeal and fish oil to alternative proteins and oils?
- Identify research needs and areas of high promise. Discuss how to encourage the research, development, and use of sustainable, alternative feed ingredients in aquaculture.
We hope the meeting will facilitate the cross-fertilization of ideas on sustainable feeds from people in different sectors and begin to provide some clarity and direction useful to policymakers. Although many experts have acknowledged the problem of increasing feed demands, and while alternative feed sources are a growing research field, there are few specific recommendations on how to achieve sustainable feed inputs. From the discussion at this workshop, we intend to produce specific recommendations to guide legislation and regulation on feeds, with the goal of improving the sustainability of aquaculture feed practices.