WEST AFRICA – A report published by NGO Feedback Global and a coalition of West African and Norwegian organizations has shed light on the detrimental impact of the Norwegian-farmed salmon industry on the livelihoods and nutrition of West African populations.

Titled “Blue Empire: How the Norwegian Salmon Industry Extracts Nutrition and undermines livelihoods in West Africa,” the report revealed that the industry extracts nearly 2 million tonnes of wild fish annually to feed farmed salmon, depriving local populations of crucial food resources.

The report emphasized that the fish, largely sourced from the Eastern Central Atlantic fishing zone 34, an area off the west coast of Africa, includes species like anchovy, sardine, sprat, and herring—essential to the regional diet.

These small, nutrient-rich fish are processed into fish oil, a key ingredient in farmed salmon feed.

Feedback Global and its partners estimated that the fish used to produce the oil for salmon feed could have met the annual needs of 2.5 to 4 million people in West Africa.

The depletion of these fish stocks threatens the livelihoods of those in the artisanal fishing sector, contributing to illegal migration attempts to Europe.

The major contributors to this issue are the four animal feed giants—MOWI, Skretting, Cargill, and Biomar—that supply nearly 100% of the feed used by Norwegian-farmed salmon producers.

Despite public commitments to sustainability, the adoption of alternative feeds by salmon producers remains marginal, exacerbating the situation.

Over the past decade, the fish meal and fish oil (FMFO) industry has expanded in West Africa, with the number of factories increasing from 5 to 49.

The report called for urgent action, recommending that the Norwegian government curtail the growth of the farmed salmon sector, ensure transparency in the supply chain, and safeguard sustainable development goals.

Industrial players, including salmon producers and fish meal and oil manufacturers, are urged to disclose their sources transparently and cease sourcing from areas with high levels of food insecurity.

With Norway aiming to triple salmon production by 2050, the report emphasizes the potential escalation of demand for wild fish from the West African coast, exacerbating the current challenges faced by the region.

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