Scottish MEP: Don’t waste bycatch
Clear opportunities exist to transform the 1 million metric tons of fish jettisoned overboard by European fleets into revenue and even an animal “super food,” according to Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson.
Stevenson is calling for the GBP 40 million (USD 60.3 million, EUR 44.2 million) of bycatch Scottish fishermen hurl back into the sea to be transformed into fishmeal and fish oil to “avoid the horrendous waste and environmental pollution involved in their wanton dumping overboard.”
The European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy requires that fishermen throw bycatch back into the sea if they exceed the quota. But for Stevenson, who’s also senior VP of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, the bycatch could be transformed into added revenue for the seafood industry.
According to Stevenson, the processing sector has already expressed willingness to compensate fishermen for over-quota fish at a rate that would be “not so attractive to encourage targeting of particular species,” but attractive enough to discourage dumping.
Demand for fishmeal and fish oil is intimately tied to the fortunes of global livestock production, fish farming and the burgeoning market for fish-oil pills.
The market today, according to the International Fishmeal (IFFO) and Fish Oil Organization, sees annual global production of fishmeal hovering around 6 to 7 million metric tons valued at about USD 3 billion (EUR 2.2 billion).
In order to meet the production needs, the industry harnesses an annual catch of 25 to 30 million metric tons of feed-grade fish and fish processing waste. For processors operating in Europe, more than half of fishmeal usage in the region is now aquaculture, according to the IFFO. Both fishmeal and fish oil are used in large quantities by northern Europe’s salmon industry, particularly in Norway and Scotland and by southern Europe’s sea bass and sea bream industries.