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Weekly Overview: Sustainable Fish Feed Developed in the US

Lucy Towers
13 August 2013, at 1:00am

ANALYSIS - In the drive to create a more sustainable aquaculture industry, more and more research is looking into alternative fish feeds which do not rely on wild fish stocks.

A team from the University of Maryland, US, have developed a completely vegetarian diet that is suitable for marine aquaculture. 

“Aquaculture isn’t sustainable because it takes more fish to feed fish than are being produced,” said Dr Aaron Watson. “But a new vegetarian diet might change everything.” 

The team found that a completely plant-based food combination can support fast-growing marine carnivores like cobia and gilthead sea bream in reaching maturity just as well as—and sometimes better than—conventional diets of fish meal and fish oil made from wild-caught fish. 

Five researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, have found that the sea creature tunicate can also be used as a replacement for fish in feeds.

In Canada, the government is helping to fund a research project to determine if cunner and lumpfish can protect farmed salmon from sea lice.

“There is evidence from aquaculture operations in Norway and Scotland that certain types of fish can be used in salmon cages to mitigate sea lice effectively, and so the Provincial Government will make C$85,000 available so that industry and research experts can explore whether cunner and lumpfish can do that here,” said Derrick Dalley, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

A four year long project, running from 2013 to 2017, in Viet Nam aims to establish a sustainable pangasius supply chain in the country. 

The project is run by the Viet Nam Cleaner Production Centre and the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and will focus on capacity building, promotion of responsible production to increase product quality, mitigation of environmental impacts and reduction on production costs by applying Resources Efficiency and Cleaner Production methodology, product innovation and market development and promotion.

The project is worth €2.4 million, of which the European Union will finance €1.9 million under the EU SWITCH-Asia Programme.