Fish meal

Fish meal , or fishmeal , is a commercial product made from fish that are commonly used for human consumption; a small portion is made from the bones and offal used in the processing of fish; or unmanaged by-catch [1] or sometimes sustainable fish stocks. [2] It is often made from fish or fish, often after cooking, and then grinding it. If the fish is used as a fatty fish most of the fish oil . [2] [3]


Fish byproducts have been used historically to feed poultry, pigs, and other farmed fish. Quoting from [3] : “A primitive form of fishmeal is mentioned in the Travels of Marco Polo at the beginning of the 14th century: ‘they accustom their cattle, cows, sheep, camels, and horses to feed on dried fish , which being regularly served to them, they eat without any sign of dislike. ‘ The use of herring as an industrial raw materials started as early as 800 AD in Norway; a very primitive process of pressing the oil out of herring by means of wooden boards and stones was employed. ”

Fish used

Fishmeal can be made of seafood , but it is only a small amount of fish that can be used to produce small fish . The fish caught for fishmeal purposes are only “industrial”. [2] Other sources of fishmeal are from bycatch and byproducts of trimmings made During processing (fish waste or offal) of various seafood products Destined For Direct human consumption. [2]

The main fish sources by country are: [2] [3] [4]

  • Chile: anchovy , horse mackerel
  • China: various species
  • Denmark: pout , sandeel , sprat
  • European Union: pout , capelin , sand eel , and mackerel
  • Iceland and Norway: capelin , herring , blue whiting
  • Japan: sardine , pilchard , saures , mackerels
  • Peru: anchovies
  • South Africa: pilchard
  • Thailand: various species
  • United States: menhaden , pollock

It takes 4 to 5 shades of fish to produce a fish meal; about 6 million tons of fish are harvested each year. [2]

Environmental impact

Fish meal production is a significant contributor of over-fishing, and risks pushing fisheries beyond their replacement rate. Some areas of the world, such as Western Africa, have seen a large increase in fish meal production. [1]


Fish meal factory, Bressay , Shetland Islands
Fish meal factory Westfield West Lothian

Fishmeal is made by cooking, pressing, drying, and grinding of fish or fish. It is a solid product of which is most removed. Four or five tons of fish are needed to make a ton of dry fishmeal. [2]

Of the many ways of making fishmeal from raw fish, the simplest is to let the fish dry out in the sun. This method is still used in some parts of the world where processing plants are not available, but the product is poor quality in comparison with those made by modern methods. Now, all industrial fish meal is made by the following processes: [3]

Cooking: A commercial cooker is a long, steam-jacketed cylinder through which the fish are moved by a screw conveyor . This is a critical stage in preparing the fishmeal, as it can be used to prepare the product for the food industry. No drying occurs in the cooking stage.

Pressing: A perforated tube with increasing pressure is used for this process. This stage involves removing some of the oil and water from the material and is known as a cake press. The water content in dry cleaning is reduced from 70% to about 50% and is reduced to 4%.

Drying: If the meal is under-dried, molds or bacteria may grow. If it is over-dried, scorching may occur and this reduces the nutritional value of the meal.

The two main types of dryers are:

  • Direct: Very hot air at a temperature of 500 ° C (932 ° F) is passed over the material as quickly as possible in a cylindrical drum. This is the quicker method, but it is much more important if the process is not carefully controlled.
  • Indirect: A cylinder containing steam-heated discs is used, which also tumbles the meal.

Grinding: This last step in processing involves the breakdown of any lumps or particles of bone.

Nutrient composition

Any complete diet must contain some protein , but the nutritional value of the protein is directly related to its amino acid composition and digestibility. High-quality fishmeal contains 60% and 72% crude protein by weight. Typical diets for fish may contain from 32% to 45% total protein by weight. [5]


Prior to 1910, fish meal was primarily used as a fertilizer, at least in the UK. [3]

Fish meal is primarily used as a protein supplement in compound feed . [3] [4] As of 2010, about 56% of fish meal Was used to feed farmed fish , about 20% Was used in pig feed, about 12% in poultry feed , and about 12% in other uses, qui included fertilizer . [2]

The cost of 65% protein fishmeal has varied between $ 385 to $ 554 per ton since 2000, which is about two to three times the price of soybean meal . [2]

The rising demand for fish, as people in the world of meat production, has increased demand for farmed fish, with farmed fish accounting for half of the world fish of 2016. [6] Demand for fish meal has increased, but is not intended to expand. [2] [6] This HAS led to a trend Towards use of other ingredients Such as soy meal , cottonseed meal, leftovers from processing from corn and wheat, vegetables , and algae , and an Increase in research to find alternatives to fish meal and alternate strategic uses (for instance, in the growth phase, after newborn fish are established).[2] [6] [7]


Unmodified fish meal can spontaneously be combusted by oxidation of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the meal. In the past, factory ships have sunk because of such fires. That danger has been eliminated by adding antioxidants to the meal. [2]

As of 2001, ethoxyquin was the most commonly used antioxidant, usually in the range 200-1000 mg / kg. [3]one of the antioxidants that has been used. There have been some speculation that ethoxyquin in pet foods may be responsible for multiple health problems. To date, the US Food and Drug Administration has not found a reliable connection between ethoxyquin and protoporphyrin IX in the liver, but with no known health effects. In 1997, the Center for Veterinary Medicine was asked to provide a quantitative review of ethoxylated levels to 75 ppm until further evidence is reported. However, most pet foods that contain ethoxyquin have never exceeded this amount. Ethoxyquin has been shown to be slightly toxic to fish.

In the US, and as a spray insecticide for fruits, ethoxyquin has surprisingly not been widely tested for its carcinogenic potential. Ethoxyquin has been suggested to be a possible carcinogen, and has a very closely related chemical, 1,2-dihydro-2,2,4-trimethylquinoline, has been shown to have carcinogenic activity in rats, and has a potential for carcinogenic effect to fishmeal. prior to storage or transportation. quote needed ]

See also

  • Fish protein powder
  • Bone meal
  • Blood meal
  • Meat and bone meal


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Jacobs, Andrew (30 April 2017). “China’s Appetite Pushes Fisheries to the Brink” . The New York Times .
  2. ^ Jump up to:l R. D. Miles and FA Chapman. FA122: The Benefits of Fish Meals in Aquaculture Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Department, UF / IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 2005. Reviewed January 2015.
  3. ^ Jump up to:g Mr. L. Windsor for the UK Department of Trade and Industry, Torry Research Station. Fish meal. Torry Advisory Note No. 49 Published by FAO in partnership with Support Unit for International Fisheries and Aquatic Research, SIFAR 2001) Bibliographical information from FAO index page
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Tim Cashion from Sea Around Us . The end use of marine fisheries landings Posted on June 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine . Fisheries Center Research Reports, 2016
  5. Jump up^ “Manufacture, Storage, Composition And Use Of Fish Meal” .
  6. ^ Jump up to:c Fry JP, et al. Environmental health impacts of feeding crops to farmed fish. About Int. 2016 May; 91: 201-14. Review. PMID  26970884 Free full text
  7. Jump up^ NOAANOAA-USDA Alternative Feeds InitiativePage accessed June 3, 2016

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