Fish meal is a commercial product mostly made from fish that are not used for human consumption; fishmeal is generally used to feed farm animals in agricultural setting. Because it is calorically dense and cheap to produce, fishmeal has played a critical role in the growth of factory farms and the number of farm animals it is possible to breed and feed.
Fishmeal is made from the bones and offal left over from fish caught by commercial fisheries. The vast majority of the fish from which fishmeal is manufactured are not used for human consumption; rather, fishmeal is generally manufactured from by-catch.
Fishmeal takes the form of powder or cake. This form is obtained by drying the fish or fish trimmings, and then grinding it. If the fish used is a fatty fish it is first pressed to extract most of the fish oil.
The production and large-scale use of fishmeal are controversial. The lucrative market for fishmeal as a feed encourages corporate fisheries not to limit their yields of by-catch (from which fish meal is made), and thus leads to depletion of ecosystems, environmental damage, and the collapse of local fisheries. And its role in facilitating the breeding and over-feeding of millions of pigs and chickens on factory farms is criticized by animal rights and animal welfare groups. Manufacturers of fishmeal counter that fishmeal’s role in the feeding and breeding of millions of farm animals leads to the production of more food and the feeding of millions of people around the world.