NOSB Issues Organic Fish Feed Recommendations


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
April 8, 2008

The National Organic Standards Board's Livestock Committee on Friday issued its recommendations for the use of fishmeal and fish oil in organic aquaculture production.

If accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a major piece of the puzzle for organic aquaculture standards would be set, clearing the way for organic production of herbivorous finfish, like catfish and tilapia.

However, if bound by these recommendations, producers of carnivorous fish like salmon would not be eligible to seek organic status for quite some time, because the use of wild fish in the production of organic fish feed would not be allowed.

Dick Martin, president of Martin International in Boston, which markets organic salmon from Scotland under the Black Pearl brand, says the recommended model would not be economically viable.

"If they [prohibit] fishmeal comprised of process-line trimmings from sustainable fisheries (as the European Union model allows) and insist upon fishmeal derived only from organic origin, like organic tilapia, it would take years to develop enough organic tilapia to create the scale required to feed [carnivorous] fish," says Martin. "The silver lining is that the USDA will not write a rule or standard that is not economically and practically feasible -- it has to work."

Also, producers of organic fish will be prohibited from using any type of antibiotic or hormone in feeds, the water supply or the environment; or using mammalian or poultry byproducts in feed.

The NOSB will next meet May 20 to 22 in Baltimore. Final organic aquaculture standards could be accepted by the USDA at some point this year.

Martin says the NOSB's recommendations for ocean net-pen culture are still pending.

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