For each salmon produced, it takes ~5 other fish to be caught in order to feed it. Great numbers of fish killed every year are not used directly for human consumption, but for the purpose of being fed to other farmed fish. The amount of fish fed to other fish exceeds the number of fish sold to consumers by an order of magnitude: around 0.45 to 1.2 trillion annually compared to 48 to 160 billion slaughtered for food globally in 2015.
This agricultural practice likely causes extreme suffering. It is also highly neglected by the animal welfare movement. This strengthens the case for interventions targeting these fish. In this report we discuss interventions from in-vitro fish feed and switching to plant-based feeds, to consumer outreach to reduce the consumption of carnivorous fish.
However, despite the scale of the problem, it might be that natural industry movement is making this intervention not worth pursuing. The industry has incentives to put resources into research and development of alternative fish feeds independent of advocacy, as plant-based feed is far cheaper than fish-based ones.
Our preliminary research suggests that this is not a very promising intervention, as the declining industry means that a medium-sized charity wouldn’t have much effect on welfare. We expect this to fall into the bottom 5 of our ask reports.
This report considers more deeply the positives and negatives of this intervention, as well as crucial considerations like whether the industry is naturally moving away from fish feed.
Our priority ask reports are focused on what are the particular improvements or changes that can be “asked” for from corporations, governments, or individuals. Going cage free, making dietary changes, regulating slaughter practices, and many other asks all serve as examples here. They are compared based on the strength of the idea (including the evidence base and estimated cost-effectiveness), limiting factors, execution difficulty, and externalities. All of these factors together could begin to suggest which asks might be the most effective when combined with a priority animal, country, and approach. However, these ask reports are short summaries of longer unpublished reports and, therefore, even if an ask looks promising this does not necessarily suggest that it will end up being a promising charity once paired with other elements and cross-compared to the other strongest possible charities. It just suggests that it is worth further and deeper investigation from our team. You can see our full planned research process here.
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