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July 2012
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What is Fish Meal? What are benefits of fish meal? – Part 3

Fish meal, or fishmeal, is a commercial product made from fish and the bones and offal from processed fish. It is a brown powder or cake obtained by drying the fish or fish trimmings which are left often after cooking, and then by grinding it.

What are benefits of fish meal?

• Fishmeal in diets increase feed efficiency and growth
• It has better food palatability and enhances nutrient uptake, digestion and absorption
• The balanced amino acid composition of fishmeal complements
• It provides synergistic effects with other animal and vegetable proteins in the diet
• This helps to promote fast growth and reduce feeding costs.
• High quality fishmeal provides a balanced amount of all essential amino aids, phospholipids and fatty acids
• These are required for optimum development, growth and reproduction especially of larvae and broodstock
• The nutrients in fishmeal also aid in disease resistance
• This is done by boosting and helping to maintain a healthy functional immune system
• It also allows for formulation of nutrient-dense diets
• This helps in promoting optimal growth
• Incorporation of fishmeal into diets of aquatic animals helps to reduce pollution from the waste water effluent
• This is done by providing greater nutrient digestibility
• The incorporation of high-quality fishmeal into feed imparts a ‘natural or wholesome’ characteristic to the final product

Ecological Links

• Fishmeal and its source of raw materials and costs are highly debated by scientists
• Fishmeal uses wild fish stock to feed farmed fish and this places direct pressure on fisheries resources
• Indirect effects are also apparent
They include:
– Diminishing wild fisheries
– Habitat modification
– Food web interactions
There is also the possibility of trace contaminants in the feed which will cause diseases and fish mortality.

Risks involved in fishmeal

• Unmodified fish meals can spontaneously combust.
• In the past ships have sunk because of such fires.
• The danger is eliminated by adding antioxidants to fishmeal prior to storage or transportation.
• Despite the adverse effects, organizations like the Fishmeal Information Network (FIN) which is one source of contact for fishmeal.
• This organization gives information on its supply chain and its role in the nutrition of farm livestock.
• FIN aims to present fact-based information, expert opinion on fishmeal and its use.
• It recognizes the imperatives of safety in the food chain, healthy diets, animal welfare and protection of the environment.

FIN monitors two key areas:
A. Legislation which governs fishmeal use in animal feed.
B. Contaminant issues and regulations that are, or are likely to impact on fishmeal, fish oil, wild finfish and farmed fish.

Main fishmeal producing countries:
• Peru: anchovy
• Chile: anchovy, horse mackerel
• China: various species
• Thailand: various species
• United States: menhaden, pollock
• European Union: various species
• Iceland and Norway: capelin, herrings, bluewhiting
• Denmark: pout, sandeel, sprat
• Japan: sardine, pilchard
• South Africa: pilchard

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