A North Atlantic first: Pharma Marine wins MSC omega-3 source backing

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Supplement industry represents a, "substantial marine footprint", says the Marine Steward Council Chain.
Supplement industry represents a, "substantial marine footprint", says the Marine Steward Council Chain.

Related tags Fish oil

Supplements firm Pharma Marine has won Marine Steward Council (MSC) Chain of Custody standard for its by-product ingredient line CodMarine, but it’s critical other supplement players follow suit in addressing their sizable marine footprint, says the certification body.  

Camiel Derichs, MSC European director, told NutraIngredients the marine lipids firm was one of the first to gain the standard. “It’s one of the first fish oil products in the world that can carry the MSC eco label, others being of course Aker Biomarine krill products, but also some products from Alaska salmon and pollock. But this is the first in the North Atlantic.”

“20% of global fish caught is going into the production of fish oil and meal – and a lot of it ends up in the supplements industry. And it’s critically important for the maintenance of these stocks in a healthy state that we can actually know where they are coming from – if they come from a sustainable source or not,” ​he said. 

CodMarine is a DHA and EPA omega-3 concentrate from cod oil, made from by-products from food production of North East Arctic cod, haddock and saithe (pollock). The Chain of Custody (CoC) approval means the ingredient meets MSC sustainable criteria across processing, storage, trading, transportation and wholesale.  

Making supplements sustainable

When asked if sustainability should be such a focal issue when compared to industries like feed and food where often raw material volumes are much larger, Derichs said: “Out of the total fisheries in the world some 80-90 million tonnes annually, an estimated 20 million tonnes is used to produce fish meal and fish oil. And a substantial chunk out of that 20 million tonnes of raw material goes into the supplements industry ultimately. So there is a substantial marine footprint.”

He said the trend is still negative, with more and more fish stocks becoming over-exploited, adding that there was currently a total of 210 fisheries globally that carry the MSC certification – representing about 10% of wild captures.

“I think the nutraceutical industry and the marine footprint that they represent can definitely help to restore the oceans when necessary,”​ he said.

Wendy Uksnoy Gabor, sales and marketing manager for Pharma Marine, told us that it was important to them to help safe guard future fish stocks, and it was pleased to be working with a board with such a sturdy reputation. 

Earlier this year the Dutch firm Bioriginal gained a MSC CoC certification for its AlaskOmega fish oil sourced from Alaska Pollock oil.

The MSC is not the only certification board in this area. The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO) offers responsibly-sourcing producers independently-audited certification through its Global Standard for Responsible Supply of fishmeal and fish oil (IFFO-RS), for example. This year the IFFO opened its certification​ up to all fish oil players - having previously been exclusively for members the organisation. 

Last year Norwegian krill firm Rimfrost launched its own ‘Eco-Collecting’ transparency initiative​. 

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