July 11, 2024


NGOs urge Norway to stop imports of African fishmeal



A group of non-governmental organisations, including Oceana and Greenpeace, are calling on the Norwegian government to ban imports of African fishmeal.


In a July 2 letter sent to Norwegian government officials, including Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, the letter requests the government more stringently regulate Norway's salmon-farming industry. Specifically, the NGOs are requesting the industry be limited in its growth so it "remains within planetary boundaries," adhere to full disclosure of suppliers from source fisheries through aquafeed suppliers, and institute an "immediate ban on the sourcing of fish oil from food-insecure regions, including Northwest Africa."


"We are writing to urge the Norwegian government to take rapid action to regulate Norway's salmon-farming industry in light of new findings highlighting its huge and growing appetite for wild-caught fish from food-insecure countries in the Global South," the letter says.


A study commissioned in 2023 by the Global Roundtable on Marine Ingredients, an initiative co-founded by the IFFO - The Marine Ingredients Organization and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, found the fishmeal and fish oil industry in West Africa has mainly supported export market growth, leaving domestic seafood markets with dwindling amounts of fish available for human consumption, environmental degradation, and decreased income for fishers and factory workers.


"The fishmeal industry is a serious threat to food security and the future of fisheries in West Africa," said Greenpeace Africa Senior Ocean Campaign Manager Aliou Ba in a press release. "This industry plunders our marine resources to feed intensive aquaculture in Asia and Europe, where local populations need it for their own food. It is time that the fish of the poor stopped feeding the fish of the rich."


The letter claims the ingredients in fish oil that is then used by the Norwegian salmon-farming industry could provide up to four million people in Africa with a year's supply of fish sufficient to meet their nutritional needs. Around two million metric tons of wild fish caught in countries like Mauritania and Senegal are used for fishmeal and fish oil production, including anchovy, sardine, sprat, herring, and sandeels.


The four largest aquafeed and fish oil producers – Mowi , Skretting, Cargill, and BioMar – supply nearly all the feed used in Norwegian salmon farming and all source fish oil from Northwest Africa, according to the letter. The number of fishmeal and fish oil plants in West Africa has increased from five to 49 in the past 10 years, it says.


The letter further notes that the Norwegian government's support of its aquaculture sector "stands in stark contrast to Norwegian development policy, which has identified food security and the fight against hunger as a priority area, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa".

- SeafoodSource