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F3 - Future of Fish Feed: A collaborative effort toward fish-free aquaculture feeds
by F3 Challenge (Partnership)
Forage fish, small pelagic fish like sardines and menhaden, account for about one third of all global fisheries (1). Ninety percent of these forage fish are processed to provide fish meal and fish oil, mostly for aquaculture (2). Forage fish consume plankton (e.g. algae, copepods) and in turn, forage fish feed cod, salmon, tuna, dolphins, sharks, seals, sea lions, penguins, seabirds, and some whales.

Without forage fish, all of these vitally important species could disappear and this is already occurring as experts estimate that newly born sea lion pup fatalities can rise to 70% due to inadequate supplies of forage fish (3). Consequently, maintaining the forage fish stocks is of critical and strategic importance for preserving life in the oceans. Many scientists say that the current rate of forage fish harvest is unsustainable (i.e. (4)).

Aquaculture, the practice of farming seafood, as it currently is practiced requires forage fish as part of the feed. Disappearance of forage fish means that aquaculture will also decline, and less protein will be available from both aquaculture and wild caught sources. The forage fish bottleneck can be overcome by innovation, and creating fish-free alternatives that will significantly reduce the pressure on forage fish populations. These alternatives can provide the same nutritional value as fish-based feeds to the animals being fed and the eventually to consumers.

F3 Future of Fish Feed is a collaborative effort between NGOs, researchers, and private partnerships to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, alternative aquaculture feed ingredients to replace wild-caught fish. It was launched as the F3: Fish Free Feed Challenge in 2015. Representatives from Australia, Austria, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, South Africa, Thailand, and the U.S. submitted entries to create new partnerships to accelerate this process.

The F3 Team commits to:
-Award the first F3 prize in 2017.
-Launch another challenge in 2017 to further innovation
-Hold another stakeholder meeting in 2019
-Encourage an International Feed Innovation Network that accelerates innovations to take pressures off wild-caught fisheries so that forage fish, and the higher trophic levels which represent the ocean as we know it, will remain for future generations.

The F3 Team welcomes collaboration with governments, NGOs and companies to attain the goal of F3 Future of Fish Feed for agriculture and aquaculture, so that our shared future becomes more sustainable.

(1), (2), (3) and (4) - For the list of references used, please see https://protectedseas.net/future-of-fish-feed
Progress reports
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Other (please specify): Use an incentive prize to create alternatives that reduce over harvesting of wild forage fish populations, and continue support for upper trophic levels including marine mammals, seabirds, commercial fisheries and seabirds.
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Research capacity development
  • Scientific cooperation
December 2019
Raise awareness on utilizing alternative resources for essential fatty acids to decrease pressure on wild caught forage fish through the challenge
December 2019
Announcement of next challenge winner - to invoke and promote innovation for alternative fish oil substitutes for aquaculture feed
October 2017
Announcement of F3 fish-free feed challenge winner - to invoke and promote innovation and alternative feed ingredients and design for aquaculture
October 2017
Announcement of the next Challenge - to push for innovation and responsible alternatives for Fish Oil used in Aquaculture
Staff / Technical expertise
An expert team of researchers and practitioners with academic, industry and NGO backgrounds
Other, please specify
Crowd sourced funding raised for F3 Challenge focusing on Fish Free Feed. New crowdsourcing will take place for F3Oil Challenge
In-kind contribution
Industrial partners have offered and committed grow out feed trials for F3 Feed Challenge winners
Basic information
Time-frame: November 2015 - December 2019
University of Arizona, University of Massachusetts Boston, New England Aquarium, Anthropocene Institute, World Bank
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Kevin Fitzsimmons, Professor, Extension Specialist and Research Scientist, f3fishfreefeed@gmail.com, (520) 626-3324
Tucson, AZ 85721
Other SDGs
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