Throughout its history, aquaculture has made use of fishmeal and fish oil to feed not only carnivorous and omnivorous fish, but even herbivorous fish, particularly in their early stages when they need high protein levels.
Historically, the oceans were considered limitless and thought to harbor enough fish to feed an ever increasing human population. However, the demands of population growth, particularly in poorer countries, now far outstrip the sustainable yield of the seas. At the same time as fishing has become more industrialized and wild fish stocks increasingly depleted, aquaculture production – fish and shellfish farming – has grown rapidly to address the shortfalls in capture fisheries. With this rapid growth aquaculture has come under intense scrutiny and criticism as environmentalists fear that it could cause significant environmental problems and further impact wild species that are already over-exploited.