Tropical Aquaculture Products: Looking to More Sustainable Practices

April 27, 2011 10:09

At Tropical they know that sustainability in the seafood industry is a journey, with new challenges that present themselves daily, reports with reference to Tropical Aquaculture Products.

The company continuously assesses its practices in order to identify and address factors that could have an influence on the sustainability of production systems. In May 2010, the company has set a goal to further reduce the fish in: fish out (FIFO) ratio in formulated feed.  They modified the source of fishmeal used in grow out feed, which roughly represents 88% of the total feed used during a production cycle.

The Fish in to Fish out ratio is a means of estimating the amount of wild fish used to produce a unit of farmed fish. The calculation takes into account the yield of wild fish live weight compared to dry fishmeal weight, the efficiency of feed use (feed conversion ratio or FCR), and the inclusion rates of fishmeal and fish oil in the feed. The FIFO ratio excludes meal and oil derived from fishery by-products, (such as trimmings, offal and their derivatives) and aquaculture by-products. The calculation is used to evaluate dependency on wild fish resources over time. Many certification schemes consider it to be an indicator for individual farm performances.

Even though farm raised tilapia generally has a low FIFO ratio due to its omnivorous nature, and although our average FIFO was 0.168, our goal was to lower it even more. By lowering the ratio we were able to create a more sustainable feed while reducing the pressure on stocks caught for fishmeal and fish oil production. In order to accomplish the goal, they've begun using only the trimmings exclusively from the Ecuadorian tuna industry. This Industry is highly regulated by the inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), therefore, the company can be sure that the fisheries from which the fish trimmings come are sustainably sourced. The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and use of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

After adopting this new practice in formulated feed production, FIFO level has been lowered to 0.06, well below the global average of 0.4 according to Tacon & Metian. This means that for every ton of whole fish caught, we produce 16.7 tons of Tilapia. Production actually makes a net contribution to global fish supplies.

Tropical Aquaculture Products will continue to work on reducing the percentage of fishmeal in formulated feed, while always taking into consideration the animal's nutritional needs and the nutritional characteristics of the final product. The company believes this is possible due to growing environment in Ecuador, where animals don't rely exclusively on formulated diets, but are supplemented by the natural primary productivity within the system. As with the rest of our operations, environmental stewardship is a key component to the way we operate. They have confidence that this effort to help protect wild fishery stocks will aid in ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

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