The fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) industry is devastating the seas and earning immense profits perverting food chains in multiple deviant ways
The oceans used to be abundant with life. Today, 90% of big fish have been removed from the sea by industrial vessels. With this "resource" depleted a new type of extractive profiteering has emerged. Unscrupulous corporations hoover all accessible small fish out of an area of ocean. This is ground into pellets in factories and used as a protein-rich ingredient in many unnatural modern supply lines including with factory farmed salmon.
Previously captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd expressed his horror at marine food chains being destroyed to feed caged animals suffering in factory farms on land claiming "pigs eat more fish then sharks"-
We are feeding fish to cats, pigs, and chickens, and we are sucking tens of thousands of small fish from the sea to feed larger fish raised in cages. House cats are eating more fish than seals; pigs are eating more fish than sharks; and factory-farmed chickens are eating more fish than puffins and albatross.
Last week, a new report came out from Greenpeace calling on West African governments to immediately phase out the wasteful fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) industry, to stop the threat to regional fish stocks essential for the food security and livelihoods of local people, outlined in a new Greenpeace report released last week.
Dutch super trawler Dirk Diederik 30 miles off the coast of Mauritania. Visible on deck is a floating device which was attached earlier in the day by Greenpeace activists onto the net cable with the words "Stop the plunder". © Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace
Shockingly, giant industrial fishing vessels from developed nations are plundering the seas of the West Coast of Africa. These fish are ground up in polluting factories and then used as feed for factory farmed animals that live lives of unimaginable torment. Is this gross perversion of natural systems the dark heart of intensive animal agriculture that drives The Sixth Mass Extinction hardest?
Everyday life in the Fishing Village of Fass Boye, Senegal. © Elodie Martial / Greenpeace
The report, entitled A waste of fish: Food security under threat from the fishmeal and fish oil industry in West Africa, raises strong concerns about the expanding FMFO industry in Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia. All three species of fish used for FMFO are essential for food security, and already overexploited.
“We’re losing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of edible fish to fishmeal and fish oil exports, potentially impacting 40 million African consumers. West African governments must protect regional fish stocks and put the food security rights of their citizens first, by quickly decreasing the amount of fish going into fishmeal production,” said Dr. Ibrahima Cissé, Oceans Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa.
Soumbedioune Fish Market © Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes
“Decades of overfishing and government inaction have degraded regional fish stocks. Now the fishmeal industry is aggravating the problem to a critical level; taking fish from people’s plates to feed fish farms, pigs or poultry in faraway markets. Catches that could be made by artisanal fishermen and the women who process them – which could feed low income families – is exported to be used as animal feed. It makes no sense.”, added Ibrahima Cissé.
Greenpeace has found 50 operational FMFO factories in the region, 40 of which were active in March 2019. The majority of West African FMFO is destined for overseas markets, largely Asia and the EU. Exports of FMFO from Mauritania have doubled between 2014 and 2018, making this country now the largest exporter of fishmeal and fish oil in the region. In 2017, it was estimated that nearly 550,000 tonnes of pelagic fish were harvested to supply FMFO processing plants in Mauritania.
The growing FMFO industry is not only threatening regional fish stocks but affecting livelihoods and food security. About 80 % of fish landings in Senegal come from the artisanal sector, and fish provides around 70% of the population’s animal protein needs, and over 50% of protein needs in The Gambia.
Greenpeace Africa calls on West African governments and companies to face their responsibilities in the much-needed protection of regional fish stocks, as well as prioritise basic human rights: food security and the livelihoods of artisanal fishermen and women processors. “We have to put fish back on people’s tables, before satisfying industrial farming,” concluded Dr. Cissé.