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Aquaculture - Revenue Route for Natural Additives

KENTUCKY - Global biotechnology company Alltech is hoping to take its knowledge of land animal nutrition inot the aquaculture business.

A year ago it opened a $1 million aquaculture center nearby its Nicholasville headquarters as it beleives the controlled rearing of aquatic animals and plants could be the route to increased revenue.

According to Kentucky.com, the Nicholasville aquaculture centre is reported to be studying the effects of Alltech's natural feed products on Nile tilapia, a freshwater fish that is farm-raised around the world. It also plans to carry out research on shrimp, trout, salmon and other species.

Much of the world's ocean fish stocks of tuna, cod, pollock and other species are at their limit of production or are on the decline because of over-fishing.

The United States imports $11 billion worth of seafood each year, and exports about $3 billion, said Ewen McLean, a Virginia Tech researcher who will join Alltech in February to head the aquaculture centre.

"We can't produce the amount of fish and seafood that we need for ourselves. There is going to be a need by 2030 for another 37 million tons of fish and that's not going to come from commercial fisheries because most are over-fished already. So the only place that can come from is aquaculture," he added.

He says that several Virginia companies plan to raise millions of pounds of fish at indoor facilities.

Implications

The Nicholasville research has implications for Kentucky, too, where the seasonal raising of shrimp, catfish, hybrid striped bass and tilapia is done mostly in outdoor ponds.

In the past 10 years, Kentucky aquaculture has grown from about 10 acres of water surface area to more than 600, said Angela Caporelli, a coordinator with the state Department of Agriculture. One indoor facility for marine shrimp is starting up in Ohio County.

"Aquaculture is a great opportunity here to make up some of the lost income from tobacco," Caporelli said.

Alltech's research - evaluated independently by Kentucky State University in Frankfort and elsewhere - indicates that its products have some benefit for shrimp and fish. For example, a yeast extract has helped produce the largest shrimp in Texas when it was used as an alternative protein, says the company.

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Ellen Hardy

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