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Fish Oil Sustainability

Fish Oil Sustainability

A customer recently raised the following point: on the Xtend-Life website under "Buyer's Guide" sustainability section, it states "The tuna oil does not have any impact on tuna stocks as it is a by-product of the tuna caught for food."  Can you expand on this?

Our response:

The reason that our tuna oil has no impact on Tuna stocks is that the oil is a by-product of the fish which is caught for food. To clarify further!  After the fish is filleted, fish meal is produced from the remainder, and oil is produced as part of the process of making the fish meal.  Around 90 – 95%% of that oil is used for agriculture and industrial purposes. 

Ironically a significant proportion of the fish meal is used for rearing fish on fish farms which actually puts more pressure on wild stocks as about 5kgs of fish meal is used to produce 1kg of salmon in a fish farm.  Actually the oil from tuna (and hoki) is more conservation friendly than much of the other oil which is mainly produced from anchovies for converting into industrial fish meal as opposed to tuna which are caught for their food value.

We certainly accept that tuna is suffering from overfishing and believe that there should be more international controls to curb this overfishing.  However, using the oil from tuna is not contributing to the pressure on the tuna fish stocks.

Fortunately the Hoki fishery in New Zealand is healthy, thanks to the tight controls kept on the allowable catches by the NZ Government.

Comments  (3)

  • landon
    February 26, 2012

    I just found out human growth hormone and fish oil share some of the same benificial properties for strong heath joints

  • Leah McCann
    August 03, 2012

    You are still contributing to the pressure on tuna stocks by being a consumer of the by-product. Tuna fishing will not decrease unless their is less demand for the product (any part, including by-product) or until their are no more tuna left to fish! By buying the by-product you are adding to the demand for their catch thus supporting their decline. It is not good enough to say that you are just using a product that is already their because it has been caught for a different purpose- eating. That is like saying you will eat rhino meat because it had been poached for a different purpose- its horns. You are still supporting the cause and increasing demand.

  • Image for Warren Matthews
    Warren Matthews - Chairman
    August 04, 2012

    Hi Leah,
    I appreciate and understand your position on this, but, I can't agree sorry.  The reality is the oil used in supplements is only a small fraction of the oil from the same species that is used for agriculture.  In addition the tuna that is used for our oil is not from endangered species of tuna such as blue-fin.

    If that oil was not used in supplements it would be simply be applied to agricultural uses with the loss of jobs given that it does not have to be refined.  It would have zero impact on the amount of fish that is caught in the first place due to it having low economic value compared to the flesh which is sold for consumption.  The only way that the level of fishing will be reduced is if the human population decides to stop eating the flesh.  That is what is driving the demand.

    In the meantime given that we are not influencing the level of fishing I think that it is morally acceptable to use that oil for the benefit of all that wish to use it.

    As I said, I respect your position on this but when you consider that only around 5% of the oil is used for supplements and that 100% of the oil only represents a small fraction of the actual fish I am just not convinced that we are contributing to pressure on the fish stocks.   I think that it is better to use a byproduct of an existing resource than use oil from fish that is targeted only for their oil.


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