Fishing the feed

The ocean covers two-thirds of our planet and plays a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth. However, overfishing, pollution, growing demand for natural resources and climate change are placing ocean ecosystems under extreme stress. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that over 90% of global fish stocks are either overfished (33.1%) or fished to maximum sustainable levels (59.9%). Chronic over-harvesting of fish and other species poses a threat to biodiversity, to the long-term sustainability of fisheries and to the people who depend on them for their lives and livelihoods. Despite these trends, global seafood consumption has doubled over the past 50 years and roughly half of world fish consumption today comes from aquaculture. Proponents of the industry claim aquaculture has the potential to deliver affordable, healthy protein and could provide a way of diverting pressure from wild fish stocks. However, the industry is failing to deliver on this promise due to its continued reliance on wild-caught fish; almost one-fifth of the world’s total catch of wild fish is processed into fishmeal and fish oil that is fed to farmed fish. This campaign highlights the impacts of using wild-caught fish to feed farmed fish on marine ecosystems and food security and sheds light on murky global supply chains.

Investing in troubled waters: the material risks of fish mortality and the use of wild-caught fish in feed for the aquaculture sector

July 2021

Soaring consumer demand for seafood, coupled with the depletion of wild-fish stocks from overfishing, makes aquaculture an attractive target for investment. Between now and 2030, it is projected that investment in aquaculture could range between US$150 – $300 billion. However, the aquaculture industry is exposed to material ESG risks from the use of wild-caught fish in feed and from high mortality rates that stem from poor fish welfare, which are likely to affect return on investments and cause reputational damage. Published in partnership with Feedback, the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, and Western Sahara Resource Watch this report shows investors could be doing much more to push companies to rapidly address these two critical business risks. Analysis of responses to a questionnaire sent to 23 investors reveal that none require companies to report on fish mortalities, none have robust policies to ensure investees reduce mortality rates on fish farms, and no investors have criteria in place to require a reduction or a phase-out of the use of wild-caught fish in feed. The report also calls into question the use of green bonds in aquaculture. Using Mowi as a case study, it shows how debt issued to scale sustainable practices in seafood has been used to greenwash the company’s image for commitments that barely go above business as usual. The report calls on investors in aquaculture to develop robust policies and practices that require companies to reduce mortality rates on fish farms, adopt good fish welfare standards, and eliminate the use of wild-caught fish in feed by 2025.

Download the report

Report
Executive Summary

Feeding a Monster: How European aquaculture and animal industries are stealing food from West African communities

June 2021

Published in partnership with Greenpeace Africa, this report uncovers how each year, over half a million tonnes of wild-caught fish are taken out of the oceans around West Africa and ground down into fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) to feed farmed fish and animals in Europe and Asia. The fish could instead provide essential protein to over 33 million people in the region each year – more than the combined populations of The Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal. In Mauritania – the country with the largest number of FMFO factories (39 factories) – over 600,000 people were forecast to be in crisis in terms of food insecurity, or worse, during the lean season in 2020.

Based on data and investigations the report reveals how West African production of FMFO has grown more than ten-fold in the past decade and highlights how Europe is a major market for West African fish oil to feed its fast-growing aquaculture sector. Companies involved in the production and trade of West African FMFO are selling to the big European aquafeed giants, which have supply chain links to major European retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Rewe, Aldi, Lidl, Carrefour, E.Leclerc and Mercadona. European food producers, traders and retailers can no longer ignore this major human rights and environmental issue. The report calls on these companies to immediately stop sourcing FMFO from West Africa and set policies to rapidly phase out the use of wild-caught fish in farmed fish and other farmed animals. It is also calling on governments in West Africa to prioritise fish for local direct human consumption.

Download the report

English
French

Dans les mailles du filet. Comment les grandes surfaces françaises font face à l’utilisation de poissons sauvages dans les chaînes d’approvisionnement aquacoles

May 2021

The use of wild-caught fish to feed farmed fish has devastating impacts on marine ecosystems, food security and fish welfare. As the global aquaculture industry continues to expand, this report evaluates the performance of the eight biggest food retailers in France (E.Leclerc, Intermarché/Les Mousquetaires (+Netto), Système U/Enseigne U, Auchan, Carrefour, LIDL, Géant/Casino and ALDI) when it comes to protecting our oceans and offering their customers sustainably farmed fish and seafood. Dans les mailles du filet is the sixth in a series of reports published in the UK, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Austria. The results obtained by French retailers are disappointing: only one supermarket, Auchan scores more than 30%, with the lowest-ranked company, Groupe Casino, on a mere 2.1%.

Download the report

French
Microsite

Erwischt: Wildfisch als Fischfutter für Aquakulturen!

March 2021

Published in partnership with AK Konsumentenschutzes OÖ, this report outlines how effectively Austrian retailers are safeguarding the health of the oceans and fish welfare through the sustainability of their aquaculture supply chains. Using the same methodology as previous reports published in the UK, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, developed with Feedback, this report finds that none of the main Austrian retailers are taking sufficient action to address sustainability risks related to either the use of wild caught fish to feed farmed fish, or welfare issues on the farms themselves. Lidl Austria ranks highest of all the retailers, but with a score of just 33%; at the bottom end of the chart, Metro scores just 8%. The report makes a series of recommendations to Austrian retailers, including blacklisting aquaculture farms with high fish mortality rates, and committing to phasing out the use of wild caught fish in their aquaculture supply chains by no later than 2025.

Download the report

German

Überfischung2: Wildfisch als Fischfutter in Aquakulturen – Schweizer Detailhändler im Vergleich

February 2021

Published in partnership with Ocean Care, this report outlines how effectively Swiss retailers are safeguarding the health of the oceans and fish welfare through the sustainability of their aquaculture supply chains. Using the same methodology as previous reports published in the UK, Germany and Spain, developed with Feedback, this report finds that none of the main seven Swiss retailers are taking sufficient action to address sustainability risks related to either the use of wild caught fish to feed farmed fish, or welfare issues on the farms themselves. Coop ranks highest of all the retailers, but with a score of just 35%; at the bottom end of the chart, Volg and Spar score just 8% and 6% respectively. The report makes a series of recommendations to Swiss retailers, including blacklisting aquaculture farms with high fish mortality rates, and committing to phasing out the use of wild caught fish in their aquaculture supply chains by no later than 2025.

Download the report

German

Atrapados: Cómo los supermercados españoles abordan el empleo de pescado salvaje en su cadena de suministro acuícola

December 2020

The latest in a series of retailer scorecards, this report looks at how effectively Spanish supermarkets are safeguarding the health of the oceans, through the sustainability of their farmed fish supply chains. The report assesses the largest supermarkets in Spain against criteria developed with Feedback, and finds a worrying lack of awareness or action being taken by any of the leading retail chains – including those, such as Lidl, which have taken steps to tackle the issue in other European countries, such as Germany and the UK. None of the retailers scored higher than 12.5%, indicating that the Spanish supermarket sector is lagging behind many of its European counterparts and needs to take swift and urgent action to ensure that its aquaculture supply chains do not negatively impact on wild fish stocks. In line with previous scorecards, the report calls on Spanish retailers to commit to phasing out the use of wild-caught fish in feed for farmed fish and shellfish by 2025.

Download the report

Spanish

Futter Bei Die Fische: Ein Bericht zum Umgang von Groß- und Einzelhändlern in Deutschland mit Wildfisch als Fischfutter in ihren Aquakultur-Lieferketten

December 2020

Published in partnership with Deutsche Umwelthilfe, this report uses the same rigorous methodology we developed with Feedback in early 2020 to assess how effectively the top seven German supermarkets are addressing the ocean sustainability implications of the farmed seafood they sell. It finds that none of the German retailers are taking sufficient action to tackle the sustainability risk posed by the use of wild-caught fish to feed farmed fish in their supply chains. Even the top scoring retailer, Kaufland, achieves less than 50% and at the bottom of the scorecard, Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd achieve a mere 15% and 19% respectively. The report calls on all retailers to recognise the risks posed by their aquaculture supply chains, and commit to an ambitious timeframe to phase out the use of wild-caught fish in farmed-fish feed.

Download the report

German

What Lies Beneath: Uncovering the truth about Peru’s colossal fishmeal and fish oil industry

November 2020

The Peruvian fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) industry is the largest producer in the world, accounting for one-third of global production and exporting approximately 1 million tonnes of FMFO every year. Despite portraying itself as a model of sustainability, this report finds an industry plagued by corruption and scandals – from underreporting fish catches and overfishing juvenile fish, to diverting thousands of tonnes of anchovy destined for human consumption to FMFO production instead. Based on an investigation carried out between February and October 2020, the report also reveals that, at a time when Peru is struggling to cope with one of the worst Covid-19 health crises in Latin America, hundreds of fishermen and FMFO workers have fallen ill, largely as a result of companies’ failure to ensure their safety and provide them with medical care. Companies involved in these environmental and social scandals are selling FMFO to European aquafeed giants, which sell salmon to major retailers including Aldi, REWE, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. The report calls for a rapid phase-out the use of wild-caught fish to feed farmed fish and other farmed animals.

Download the report

English
English Summary
Spanish Summary

The Hidden Cost of Farmed Salmon

November 2020

UK supermarket Sainsbury’s describes itself as ‘leading the way in sustainable fish’. However in our retailer scorecard, Sainsbury’s ranked below Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, M&S and Lidl in an assessment of supermarket chains’ sustainability policy on farmed seafood, obtaining a lowly score of 20%. Sainsbury’s farmed salmon packaging states that “the salmon are fed a bespoke diet designed to protect our natural resources from overfishing”, but in reality the retailer’s farmed salmon, one of its biggest seafood sellers, is fed a diet of wild caught fish with detrimental environmental and social impacts. In addition, the briefing takes a closer look at the performance of Norwegian aquaculture giant Mowi, Sainsbury’s main salmon supplier, and finds that the company is plagued by environmental damage caused by fish escapes and worrying animal welfare issues, reflected in high salmon mortality rates, high use of antibiotics and other chemicals. It calls on Mowi to take rapid action to reform its farming practices and calls on Sainsbury’s and Mowi to commit to eliminating the use of wild-caught fish in its feed. Failing this, it urges Sainsbury’s to reconsider its seafood sourcing strategy with a view to potentially removing Mowi from its supplier list.

Sign the petition

SumOfUs petition

Download the report

English

Caught Out: How UK retailers are tackling the use of wild fish in their aquaculture supply chains

March 2020

Published in partnership with Feedback, this report scores the top 10 UK supermarkets against a set of criteria designed to assess how effectively they are addressing the ocean sustainability implications of the farmed seafood they sell, which remains largely reliant on the use of wild-caught fish in feed. The report finds that ALDI is the worst-performing supermarket in this area, with policies and practices in relation to the sustainability of its farmed fish that do not live up to the broader sustainability image it is cultivating. Tesco was found to be the best-performing supermarket, albeit with a middling score of 60%; seven retailers, including high-end Waitrose, scored less than 30%. The report calls on all retailers to recognise the risks posed by their aquaculture supply chains, and commit to measures to phase out the use of wild-caught fish in farmed-fish feed, setting a target to achieve this goal of no later than 2025.

Visit the microsite

fishingthefeed.com

Download the report

English

Fishing for Catastrophe

October 2019

Based on findings from undercover investigations in Vietnam, India and The Gambia, this report presents damning evidence that the production of fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) for use in the growing global aquaculture industry is destroying fish stocks, marine ecosystems and traditional livelihoods as well as undermining the food security of vulnerable communities. Our findings  reveal that demand for FMFO is fuelling overfishing, exacerbating other pressures on wild fish stocks such as climate change, and that the species being taken to produce FMFO are often food grade fish Through in-depth supply chain research we trace the tainted supply of FMFO from fishery to farm to fork, implicating some of Europe’s biggest retailers, as well as the world’s largest aquafeed producers. With over 50% of the seafood we consume coming from aquaculture, a figure predicted to rise to 60% by 2030, the pressure on wild fish stocks to feed farmed species is growing. Against this backdrop, the report analyses the risks that irresponsible sourcing of feed raises for companies throughout aquaculture supply chains. It finds that the sector’s continued dependence on wild fish for use in aquafeed represents a systemic threat for companies, with FMFO and aquafeed producers being particularly vulnerable. Through their increasing reliance on farmed seafood fed using FMFO, other sectors – such as seafood processing and retail – are also exposed to these risks, which include disruption of supply, rising costs of raw materials and reputational damage.

Visit the microsite

fishingthefeed.com

Download the report

English
English Summary
French Summary
Spanish Summary
Investor Briefing

Until the Seas Run Dry: How industrial aquaculture is plundering the oceans

April 2019

This report shines a spotlight on the environmental and social impacts of reduction fisheries, i.e. the use of wild-caught fish in fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) to feed farmed fish. It provides a comprehensive review of latest scientific research on the impacts of reduction fisheries on marine ecosystems, an examination of the geographies of destruction in which FMFO production take place, and a brief analysis of some of the major corporate players behind the expansion of the aquafeed industry into a multi-billion-euro business. The evidence shows that grinding wild fish up to to feed a growing aquaculture industry raises concerns of overfishing, poor animal welfare and disruption of aquatic food webs; it also undermines food security in developing countries, as less fish is available for direct human consumption. Our research highlights that, despite their commitments to sustainability and transparency, fishmeal producers and major aquafeed companies disclose little information about the origin, quantity or sustainability of the wild-caught fish used in their feed. The limited information that is available shows that many companies source from regions with poor food security (such as West Africa) and from fisheries that are not sustainably managed, or for which insufficient information exists to assess their stock status. Given the rapid growth of the sector, it is key for the aquaculture and aquafeed industries to phase out the use of wild-caught fish for aquafeed and fish farming in order to prevent further unwarranted destruction of marine resources.

Download the report

English
English Summary
French Summary
Spanish Summary