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About ¾ of the fishmeal and oil are produced from the harvest of small, open-ocean (pelagic) fish such as anchovies, herring, menhaden, capelin, anchovy, pilchard, sardines, and mackerel. These fish have short life cycles and are capable of rapid reproduction and stock replenishment. The other ¼ is generated from the scraps produced when fish are processed for human consumption.
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Ocean fish meal is the clean, rendered (cooked down), dried ground tissue of undecomposed whole ocean fish or ocean fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil. (AAFCO, 2003). Ocean fish is a good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, however just make sure that the pet food you choose uses human grade fish for their ocean fish and ideally lists what type of fish it is (not non-specific). Some scientists working with the aquaculture industry argue that raising carnivores has not increased the total volume of fish being “officially” targeted for producing fishmeal and oil products, which are also used to feed swine and poultry. However they acknowledge that the percentage used for aquafeeds is steadily growing, and at the current growth rate, the aquaculture industry will require volumes in excess of what the oceans can sustain. At the current growth rate of the industrial sector farming carnivorous fish species, the United Nation's FAO reports that fish populations targeted for fish oil could be depleted by 2015. Fishmeal resources could be depleted by 2030. There is new evidence in some regions that “biomass” fisheries, which capture ocean fish for fishmeal, have begun to destabilize the marine food web with negative impacts on marine wildlife.