New insect protein for fish could help address supply concerns

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
5 April 2007, at 1:00am

US - Aquaculture and technology group Neptune Industries has come one step closer to completing its insect-based dietary protein for fish, which the firm claims will be key to addressing the imminent shortage of world fish stocks.

The company today announced the commencement of a research agreement with Mississippi State University in order to complete the development of its product, as well as conduct taste and quality tests for fish fed with the insect protein.

According to the firm's president Ernest Papadoyianis, Neptune Industries' patent-pending Ento-Protein would be a sustainable source of protein to replace fish meal, which is currently made from rapidly declining ocean species such as anchovies, sardines and menhaden.

Neptune Industries said its product, which is expected to be on the market within the next year, will initially target organic and natural fish production before moving into the mainstream seafood market.

Fears about reduced global fish stocks have escalated in recent years. A report published last year in the Science journal claimed that all seafood stocks around the world may collapse by 2050 if fishing continues at its current rate.

The collapse, which would see more than 90 per cent of all wild seafood that is currently fished disappear, would destroy both ecosystems and fishing economies. The findings pile intense pressure on industry and governments to create a more sustainable production chain.

Neptune Industries believes its product comes at a crucial time to help address the issue.

The firm will be working with three divisions of Mississippi State University: the etymology department, to identify insect species most suited for the production of Ento-Protein; the aquaculture department, which will conduct feeding and growth rate tests on fish fed with the new protein; and the food science department, which will conduct taste tests to identify any differences in the taste or quality of fish reared on the new diet.

Once all tests have been completed successfully, the firm will move ahead with the construction of full-scale manufacturing facilities to develop the product, and expects it to be available within 12 months.

According to Papadoyianis, Ento-Protein will be a major breakthrough for the fish industry, which is not only faced with a supply shortage for bate fish, but has also been slapped with fish meal price increases at a time when demand - for both meal and fish - is on the up.

Neptune Industries also expects its product will play a key role in the market for organic fish. In a climate of increasing interest in organic products, organic fish production has remained an area of uncertainty. Last week, the National Organic Standards Board issued recommendations that fish raised on fish meal-based aquaculture diets be excluded from US Organic Aquaculture Standards. The recommendations require a sustainable source of protein be identified to replace fish meal.