In 2016, forage fish numbers fell so low that the fishery was closed for the first time all along the US West coast to as far south as Peru. Forage fish are at the base of the food chain, feeding marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals), sea turtles, commercial fisheries (salmon, cod, etc) and sea birds.
The F3 approach encourages conservation by going to the source of demand: 90% of forage fish are used for aquaculture feed. Forage fish as aquaculture feed is unsustainable since aquaculture needs more than nature can provide. The industry clearly needs alternatives to take the pressure off of a keystone species and to avert an ocean collapse.
The F3 Fish Free Feed challenge stimulates the scaling and commercialization of alternatives. It is judged and cosponsored by experts across the nation: the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the University of Arizona, and the New England Aquarium. AI is one of several crowd sourced sponsors.
Other projects to take pressure off of wildcaught forage fish:
- Researching an ‘eco-sardine’ for efficacy that is a nutritional equivalent to a sardine for feed trials of California Yellowtail at Hubbs Seaworld.
- Research trial of a methanotroph as feed.
- Policy research on regulatory changes that prevent the usage of susbstitutes in the US. Due to a recent regulatory change, as of January 2016 algal oils may no longer be used in aquaculture feed in the US. Anthropocene Institute is engaged in conducting policy research on pathways to gain approval and the processes involved.