Consumers are increasingly concerned that the natural health products they use are manufactured in a responsible, sustainable way. Seas are over-fished. Food stocks are under strain. As a result, consumers increasingly want to know that the products they are buying have minimal environmental impact. This is especially true of  newcomer to the Australian supplement industry, calamari oil, which has been marketed as a sustainable option for omega-3 supplements. But - given that it is produced from a popular food source that is already potentially over-fished - is calamari oil sustainable?

How Do We Define "Sustainable"?

Before we look in depth at Calamari Oil, it is useful to define what we mean by 'sustainable'. 'Sustainable development' is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Under this definition, different species can be sustainably harvested at different rates, including the particular biology of the species being harvested, the fishing methods employed and the potential for by-catch (catching other fish and marine life during the fishing process that are not useful / utilised).

Calamari Oil: Towards Zero Waste Products

More than 2 million tons of calamari is caught around the world yearly.  Of this, 10% of the food-grade raw material is not used for human consumption and is either used for fish food or discarded.  Calamari Oil actually comes from that largely un-utilised portion of existing calamari catches – which is approximately 200,000 tons.

"When one considers the pressure on so many fish species, it becomes clear that we must utilise the byproduct of all marine resources that we harvest," noted Todd Parker, managing member for Pharma Marine, the world's largest producers of Calamari Oil  ”All the cut offs and trimmings that are currently thrown away during seafood preparation should be saved and utilized to make products, such as omega-3 (supplements)." Such an approach towards utilising 100% of existing seafood catches reduces the number of live animals that need to be caught and killed. In the case of calamari oil, no additional animals need to be caught at all to meet current and forecasted demand for the product.

Calamari Are Resilient

Calamari have short life spans of approximately 450 days. They also have a low reproductive age and are inherently resilient to fishing pressure. Further, individual growth rates for calamari are very high. Finally, it is believed that calamari can acquire one unit of body weight for each two units of food consumed.

All of these factors combine to make calamari more resilient to overfishing than other species of seafood. Even with current fishing levels, the available biomass of calamari continues to grow.  Furthermore, according to Calamari Oil manufacturer Pharma Marine's website, the calamari used to produce calamari oil is fished by hookline by small vessels, rather than being trawled or harvested by industrial methods, which means:

    • Highly selective hooklines that primarily target adult specimens

    • Virtually zero collateral damage to other species

    • No negative impact to ocean floor or coral reefs.

When compared with other species, such as Atlantic cod, anchovies and yellow fin tuna it is clear that calamari oil is a better choice for sustainable harvesting.

State of the Art Organic Filtration

The calamari oil from the trimmings of squid is further refined and purified using patent pending, gentle processing technology in a state-of -the-art production facility. The technology and processes involved include cold filtration, organic filtration, molecular distillation, and detoxification and concentration methods.

This wild caught calamari, or squid as it’s also commonly known, is one of the best known sources of both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

Calamari Oil Conclusion? Seems like a sustainable option.

    • Calamari biomass has and is increasing.

    • Calamari Oil is made only from the trimmings of food-grade Calamari, which is not otherwise utilized

    • Catches of calamari use highly selective and environmentally safe fishing methods

    • Calamari Oil is sourced from continuously assessed and managed fisheries

    • Fisheries to a large extent operated by locally operated artisanal vessels

    • Unique biological features with short lifespan and high growth rate mean Calamari stock is sustainable

    • Calamari Oil is certified as sustainable by Friend of the Sea®

    • Very clean and near neutral smell and taste

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