Sustainability in aquaculture

Aquaculture plays an important role in the supply of fresh fish for human consumption. Fish contains healthy proteins and essential omega-3 fatty acids, both of which form part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Previously, fish farmers in the aquaculture sector were heavily dependent on the use of fishmeal and fish oil in these feeds. For a long time now, we as a producer of fish feed have been investing time and money in developing fish feed that contains less fishmeal and fish oil. So far, our efforts have produced commercial fish feed that contains considerably smaller amounts of fishmeal and fish oil and more plant-based raw materials and animal by-products. These alternative ingredients enable us to produce high-performance fish feed that contains all the essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

A sustainable and successful aquaculture sector supplies healthy food for our population and uses natural raw resources responsibly, and in so doing limits its impact on the environment. Our extensive research allows us to meet the needs of the fish as well as the requirements of the market and our customers


The FIFO factor ('Fish in: Fish out') calculates how many kilograms of fresh wild fish is required in the form of fishmeal and fish oil to produce one kilogram of farmed fish. A frequently used formula for this is supplied by IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation:

FIFO = (% of fishmeal in feed + % of fish oil in feed/(22.5 + 5) x FCR x 0.75

This formula is based on the amount of fishmeal and fish oil in the feed. The factor 22.5 indicates that one kilogram of fresh fish produces on average 22.5% fish meal. The factor five is also based on the principle that one kilogram of fresh fish produces on average 5% fish oil. The FCR indicates the amount of feed needed to produce one kilogram of farmed fish. Finally, the factor 0.75 assumes that all current fishmeal and fish oil consists of 25% by-products from the fish-processing industry.

A FIFO factor below 1 indicates a net fish production, i.e. more fish is farmed than fishmeal and fish oil are taken from the sea. Coppens has even managed to achieve a FIFO factor of just under 0.5 for trout feed, too! Traditional fishmeal and feed that is rich in fish oil had a factor well above 1. In terms of omnivorous and herbivorous fish such as carp, catfish, and tilapia, the FIFO factor was well below 1. In terms of carnivorous fish such as European bass and sea bream, it was possible to reduce the FIFO factor to around 1. In light of this, a large proportion of the fish-farming industry has now become a net producer of fish, drastically reducing its reliance on marine raw materials


Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) have been developed to farm fish in a more efficient and controlled manner. These RAS systems use filters to purify water so that it can be reused. In comparison with conventional aquaculture systems, this technique drastically reduces the quantity of water needed to produce one kilogram of fish. By using heat exchangers, the heat from water flowing out can be transferred to water flowing in. This means that fish farms consume a considerably lower amount of energy.
An additional advantage is that the system uses mechanical and biological filters to purify the water of fish excrement, which in turn reduces the impact of aquaculture on the environment. Besides this, recirculation systems help to prevent and possibly combat illnesses. Finally, the system eliminates the probability of wild fish coming into contact with domesticated fish and therefore prevents genetic interaction. RAS is the ultimate solution for sustainable and environmentally friendly aquaculture.