In the wild, carnivorous fish such as salmon will consume roughly 10 pounds of fish to gain one pound of body weight. Farmed fish also consume wild fish—albeit as an ingredient in formulated feed. This feed is made from fishmeal and oil, and vegetable-based fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. As a result, farmed fish consume only about three pounds of processed, wild fish for every pound they gain.
Most of the fish meal in feed comes from the anchovy fishery off the coast of South America. The annual capture of this fishery has remained stable since the 1960s, despite the rise in aquaculture. Approximately 30 percent of the world’s fish meal production is used to feed fish; the remainder goes to pig and chicken feed.
The Center’s study of fish physiology and behavior with biotelemetry and video techniques is laying the foundation for more efficient feeding practices. We are also exploring the potential of protein sources other than fish meal or feed, such as seaweed, soy beans, and poultry trimmings.