Wild sources of fish feed - on which the farmed fish sector is dependent - are heading for a sustainability crisis, it was claimed this week.

Aquaculture is often hailed as the way to take the pressure off wild seafood, but it is predicted its rapid growth will mean that demand for fish meal and oil will exceed supply by 2010.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the Soil Association, the Marine Stewardship Council, Waitrose and fish farming company Aquascot have teamed up to take the concept of certified sustainability into the area of fish meal and oil for organic farmed salmon production for the first time.

The partnership's aim is that within four years, all fish meal and fish oil incorporated into Soil Association organic fish diets should come exclusively from MSC-certified sources.

Soil Association Scotland director Hugh Raven, said: "Supplies of fish oil are running short. The industry must get real and start looking seriously at where it is going to get its most important raw material.

"There are concerns within the organic movement regarding environmental and welfare aspects of fish-farming, but with two thirds of the world's fisheries fully or over-exploited, we have a responsibility to engage with this rapidly developing aquaculture sector."

Peter Bridson, Soil Association aquaculture programme manager, said: "We are hoping that other fish farmers and retailers will imitate our move. There are a lot of heads buried in the sand about this issue at the moment."

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