Production country — Europe
Production method — Open net pen
Certification — ASC certified
Updated: November 2019.
European union and Turkey are primary producers of farmed meagre. Meagre are generally farmed in open sea pens and are fed a diet reliant on wild fish capture as a key ingredient. Meagre farmed in this way can cause some environmental concerns, including escaped farmed fish and the data surrounding escapes; interactions between escaped and wild fish; use of chemicals, in particular antibiotics and farm level data relating to their use and some remaining concerns surrounding enforcement and regulatory controls. Meagre are carnivorous fish that require more fish in their diet than farming them actually produces, leading to a net loss of marine proteins and oils. The fish used to produce their feed cannot be assured to be sourced from a sustainable supply. ASC, GAA BAP 3* & 4* and GlobalGap certified meagre addresses some of these problems.
Criterion Score: -3
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard for feed is under development and in 2016, it published an interim solution for the ASC Marine Feed Ingredients. Under the ASC Standard, non-marine ingredients do not need to be from sources certified by an ISEAL Member’s certification until 2023. The majority of aquaculture feeds used by EU and Turkish producers of European seabass, gilthead seabream and meagre are produced by suppliers that have a responsible feed sourcing policy, however the implementation of this cannot be verified in these countries. The majority of terrestrial inputs used in the formulation of these diets is traceable to the country of origin, however the responsible sourcing of these cannot be assured at this time. The Feed Fish Dependency Ratio for this species currently indicates that more fish protein is required in the diet than these fish produce, making them a net consumer of fish rather than a net producer.
Criterion Score: 2
The requirements of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard do much to mitigate against environmental impacts of production via specific, audited criteria. The production cycle of farmed European seabass, gilthead seabream and meagre, including the hatchery phase takes place in full strength seawater. In the ASC standard, only fingerlings that are produced in hatcheries may be used for grow-out purposes. Farms in the EU and Turkey use mooring techniques which cause minimal alteration to the seabed. Marine net pen culture systems inevitably discharge fish wastes directly into the aquatic environment. The ASC standard has indicators to ensure all biological and non-biological waste produced by a farm is recycled, reused or disposed of properly and does not affect neighbouring communities. There is a potential problem with parasites and pathogenic disease outbreak but these do not appear to present any population-level threats to wild species in the region. The impact on wild species is limited by effective management and a Fish Health Management Plan (FHMP) is in place. Chemicals are used but the environmental impact of chemical use is effectively regulated by the ASC standard. Open net pens are vulnerable to large escape events, as well as frequent trickle losses. The ASC Standard seeks to address farmed fish escapes by demanding a rigorous farm management system to minimise risk of escapes. Lethal control of predators is only used where worker safety is at immediate risk.
Fish Health and Welfare
The ASC standard does not cover animal welfare and humane slaughter. The slaughter method predominantly employed by European seabass, gilthead seabream and meagre farms is to kill fish by immersion in an icy slurry at the time of harvest. In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority recommended that electrical stunning be urgently adopted as a more humane industry practice. Despite this advice, which has since been echoed by other welfare organisations, humane slaughter requirements still remain absent in legislation governing this sector
Criterion Score: 5
Policy makers across the geographic scope of this assessment have made considerable progress toward an effective inter-regional governance strategy for the aquaculture sector over the last few decades; this has been a formidable task, given that a total of 21 countries border the Mediterranean. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard criteria addresses all issues that you would expect to be covered by good country legislation, and these are deemed to be effective due to the independent audit carried out to confirm compliance. None of the assessment questions addressing environmental impacts have been scored negatively due to poor regulation.
Open net pen
Meagre are farmed in open net pens in the sea. These are floating cages suspended in the sea and held in place by moorings underneath the cages. Water flows through the cages which are made of strong netting that also allow waste to fall through to the sea bed below.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Argyrosomus regius or meagre is a fish of the Sciaenidae family. It has a similar form to a European seabass, with a pearly-silver coloration and a yellow-coloured mouth. Length can range from 4050 cm to 2 m long, with weights up to 55 kg. Distributed across Eastern Atlantic: Norway to West Africa, including the Mediterranean and western end of Black Sea and Sea of Marmara. Also in lakes of Nile delta and Bitter Lakes to Gulf of Suez; has migrated to the Red Sea via Suez Canal. The biggest fish are found along the coast of West Africa. In Senegal, in the bay of Dakar seems to be the southern limit of the species; big schools of meagre are found around wrecked ships that were sunk to create habitats for several commercial species. Adult meagre stay in deeper water (to 300m) in winter and move inshore in mid-April and enter estuaries to spawn (anadromous migration). During the spawning season, males produce a typical deep sound, by pushing their abdominal muscles against the gas bladder. A 1.2 m female produces about 800 000 eggs, spawning occurs at 17-22 degrees C. Juveniles stay in shallow water and eat small fish and crustaceans . When they reach 30-40 cm, they feed on pelagic fish and cephalopods, the adult diet.
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