Transparency and sustainability fall short in Tasmanian salmon aquafeed.
The production of feed pellets for Tasmanian farmed Atlantic salmon is one of the most expensive, resource intensive and complex parts of the entire salmon industry. Very little information is publicly available on what is in these pellets, where it came from, how it is regulated and what the environmental impacts are. The sustainability and public health implications of this global supply chain are significant when you consider the impact of overfishing for fish meal and fish oil (FMFO), industrial agriculture crops such as soya, maize and canola oil, use of mammal abattoir by-products, and the ability for GMO ingredients in aquafeed at prescribed levels without requiring labelling.
To shed light on this global supply chain we sent Skretting, BioMar and Ridley a survey asking them about their supply chain, wild fish ingredients, land animal ingredients, plant ingredients, GMO ingredients, and environmental impact feed manufactured for the Tasmanian salmon industry. We received little to no response on any of our questions. Skretting was most responsive directing us to a two year old sustainability report lacking specific information requested.
A chronic lack of transparency prompted this assessment of the ingredients, global supply chains, GMO policies and sustainability of aquafeed manufacture for the tasmanian salmon industry from available academic and industry sources. We do know that at least one of the companies uses rare and near threatened fish species in their feed, and companies use abattoir by-products from land animals. A practice banned in the UK and EU for public health reasons.
None of the companies addressed serious animal welfare concerns by describing how their advertised ranges are designed to accelerate growth, appetite or the ability for fish to survive longer when heat stressed. None of the three companies would declare what medicated feeds were ordered by the salmon companies vets to treat the many disease outbreaks experienced over the past two years.
Salmon farmed in Tasmania is facing increased criticism and loss of social licence with due to release of nutrients from marine cages and spreading of disease to wild fish populations . Not to mention the reliance of wild capture fisheries as a mainstay of of feed ingredients and with their growing use of terrestrial animals from other intensive farming systems. Despite this, Tasmanian farmed salmon is often cited as a more sustainable means of producing animal protein than other forms of animal farming in Australia. Due to the greenhouse intensive way feed is manufactured, salmon farming in Tasmania has only marginally less global warming impact than farming beef cattle.
Mandatory labelling on packaging that distinguishes Tasmanian farmed Atlantic salmon from wild salmon
Salmon feed companies must provide up-to-date information via webpage detailing:
- Wild fish species used in feed and IUCN status (vulnerable, threatened and endangered)
- What mammalian by products are in the feed, country of origin and percentage
- What chicken byproducts are in feed, country of origin and percentage
- If any trace of GMO is in supply chain
- Country of origin of grain ingredients and percentage
- Global warming assessment of feed supply chain for most recent financial year