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One-third of world fish catch used for animal feed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One-third of the world’s ocean fish catch is ground up for animal feed, a potential problem for marine ecosystems and a waste of a resource that could directly nourish humans, scientists said on Wednesday.

The fish being used to feed pigs, chickens and farm-raised fish are often thought of as bait, including anchovies, sardines, menhaden and other small- to medium-sized species, researchers wrote in a study to be published in November in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources.

These so-called forage fish account for 37 percent, or 31.5 million tons, of all fish taken from the world’s oceans each year, the study said. Ninety percent of that catch is turned into fish meal or fish oil, most of which is used as agricultural and aquacultural feed.

Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and a professor at Stony Brook University in New York, called these numbers “staggering.”

“The reason I find that so alarming is that it’s an enormous percentage of the world fish catch,” Pikitch said by telephone. “And fish are fundamentally important to the health of the ocean overall.”

Reuters



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