Nearly 50 per cent of all the seafood consumed by humans now originates from aquaculture. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Research conducted to uncover potential of algae for fish feed
Friday, December 24, 2010, 03:40 (GMT + 9)
The Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum (SARF) and Marks and Spencer are conducting new research to examine the potential of seaweed and other microscopic algae as viable sources of raw materials to feed farmed fish on a commercial basis.
Nearly 50 per cent of all the seafood consumed by humans now originates from aquaculture, and 6 per cent of it is marine fish farming. A proportion of these fish’s diets rely on raw materials from capture fisheries - finite sources, such that alternatives are needed.
Scotland is currently leading the research into fish feeds made from seaweed thanks to its extensive coastline, well-established capacity for marine research and progressive approach to the development of renewable energy.
“The use of seaweeds and other algae could help to reduce reliance on traditional sources of raw materials for aquaculture diets,” said Mark James, from SARF. “There is also some evidence to suggest that they may have other important properties relevant to fish health and welfare.”
“The fact that seaweeds would largely be cultivated at sea means that there would be no competition for valuable arable land or freshwater resources. This project will hopefully provide an objective view on the viability of algae as a raw material source for aquaculture feeds,” he continued.
He noted that seaweeds and their microscopic counterparts may consequently soon play an increasingly important role in the future of aquaculture and thus a key food source for humanity.
“As part of our Plan A environmental and ecological initiatives we have committed to sourcing all of our aquaculture species and feeds from the most sustainable sources by 2015,” stated Richard Luney, Wild Fish and Aquaculture Manager from Marks and Spencer. “By supporting the SARF project we aim to understand the potential for algae to supplement our
aquaculture feeds with ingredients that have the potential to provide essential health benefits to our customers whilst taking some of the pressure off wild fish sources.”
Richard Slaski of Epsilon Resource Management Ltd, the contractor chosen to take on the commissioned research project, said that it has been established that fish oil equivalents especially can be produced by certain types of algae. Using these algae to source the fish oil equivalent ingredients would make feed formulation more flexible as well as eradicate some of the intermediate steps in the food chain.
Aquaculture would then be doing its part to lower pressure on wild fish populations, he added.
“The potential for replacing wild fish with seaweeds in feeds for farmed fish is a fantastic opportunity to improve the sustainability of salmon farming and fish farming in general,” decalred Dr Piers Hart, Aquaculture Policy Officer for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Scotland, who was involved in developing the specification for the review.
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