The production of flour and fish oil, growing in West Africa, threatens not only the seas off the African coast but also food security and the livelihood of coastal populations. According to the recent report by Greenpeace wasted fish the stocks of small pelagic fish, fundamental for coastal craft fleets and the feeding of countries like Senegal, are fished by large industrial fleets and increasingly used not for human consumption but to produce fish meal and oil. These products end up in feed for intensive farming, especially aquaculture.
„Greenpeace has long denounced how industrial and excessive fishing is emptying the seas off the coast of West Africa with a devastating environmental and social impact. Now the situation is made even more serious by the production of fish meal and fish oil. We are losing hundreds of thousands of tons of fish suitable for human consumption to satisfy the feed industry, with a potential impact on over 40 million African consumers. It is absolutely unacceptable that we take away their catch to feed the fish that ends up on our plates „
According to the most recent FAO estimates, most of the small pelagic stocks off West Africa are overexploited, while in the past 25 years total catches have more than doubled. Despite this, exports of flour and fish oil doubled in Mauritania between 2014 and 2018, making this country the largest exporter of fish meal and fish oil in the region, followed by Morocco. Greenpeace has documented the presence of 40 fishmeal and fish oil production plants in operation in March 2019, mainly in Mauritania and more recently also in Senegal and Gambia. Europe, together with Asia, is among the main importers of these products, especially Italy is the main European country which imports fishmeal and fish oils from Senegal. Although the quantities of West Africa are rather limited compared to world production, the rapid expansion of production in recent years, especially in Mauritania and Senegal, raises particular concerns about the increasingly evident socio-economic and environmental impacts.
An estimated 69 percent of fishmeal produced worldwide in 2016 was used to produce feed for aquaculture, 23 percent for the intensive pig farming industry, 5 percent of poultry. 75 percent of fish oil production was used for aquaculture and only 18 percent for direct human consumption, in food supplements and drugs.
An estimated 69 percent of fishmeal produced worldwide in 2016 was used to produce feed for aquaculture, 23 percent for the intensive pig farming industry, 5 percent of poultry. 75 percent of fish oil production was used for aquaculture and only 18 percent for direct human consumption, in food supplements and drugs. Europe and Asia are the main importers of these products, and the growing demand increases their production. Although the FAO has shown that most of the stocks of small pelagics off West Africa are overfished and that in the last 25 years the total catches have more than doubled, in Mauritania between 2014 and 2018 the exports of flour and oil fish have doubled, making this country the largest exporter of fishmeal and fish oil in the region, followed by Morocco. Also in Senegal and Gambia a feed production was born, it is the main European country importer of fishmeal and fish oils from Senegal, it seems to be Italy.
Greenpeace’s appeal is that coastal states, as established by international agreements, cooperate to ensure a sustainable use of common resources and that the supply chains are transparent to guarantee consumers a conscious choice on the environmental and social impact of the fish that ends up on the tables.