Feeding a monster: how aquaculture is stealing food from West African communities

Working with Changing Markets and Greenpeace Africa, Ecostorm contributed key supply chain investigations and data to a major report uncovering how each year, over half a million tonnes of wild-caught fish are taken out of the oceans around West Africa and ground down into fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO) to feed farmed fish and animals in Europe and Asia.

The fish could instead provide essential protein to over 33 million people in the region each year – more than the combined populations of The Gambia, Mauritania and Senegal. In Mauritania – the country with the largest number of FMFO factories (39 factories) – over 600,000 people were forecast to be in crisis in terms of food insecurity, or worse, during the lean season in 2020.

Based on data and investigations the report reveals how West African production of FMFO has grown more than ten-fold in the past decade and highlights how Europe is a major market for West African fish oil to feed its fast-growing aquaculture sector.

Companies involved in the production and trade of West African FMFO are selling to the big European aquafeed giants, which have supply chain links to major European retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Rewe, Aldi, Lidl, Carrefour, E.Leclerc and Mercadona. European food producers, traders and retailers can no longer ignore this major human rights and environmental issue.

The report calls on these companies to immediately stop sourcing FMFO from West Africa and set policies to rapidly phase out the use of wild-caught fish in farmed fish and other farmed animals. It is also calling on governments in West Africa to prioritise fish for local direct human consumption.

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