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News Article

Alternative protein sources for aquafeeds

Alternatives to fish meal needed to ensure sustainability of aquaculture

According to James Cook University’s Associate Professor Jan Strugnell, current projections have the global population rising by 2 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050, which means an increase in world-wide food production of between 25 and 70 per cent will be required within the next thirty years.

She said that while livestock production is intensifying in an attempt to meet such demand, it comes with significant challenges including overgrazing, water shortages, and loss of natural biodiversity. In view of this, aquaculture, she explained, will be meeting an increasingly significant part of the demand for animal protein.

Strugnell said that some 70 per cent of aquaculture is dependent on aquafeeds, which in turn have relied on high concentrations of fish meal and fish oil sourced from wild-captured fish. The sustainability of this supply is cause for concern since wild fisheries catch peaked in 1995 and has been in consistent decline ever since.

With a view to addressing this problem, the researchers decided to examine alternative sources of food for farmed fish; their findings have been published in an open access paper in One Earth.

According to JCU’s Associate Professor Jennifer Cobcroft, more inedible parts of seafood, including wild-caught fish, could be used in aquafeeds than are currently used; insect-based meals are also promising alternatives to conventional fish meal.

However, Cobcroft admitted that there are technological, financial and scalability challenges to overcome in ramping up the production of such fish meal alternatives.

Nevertheless, the researchers feel that “there is enormous potential for technological improvements to consistently produce high-quality alternative protein products with enhanced nutritional profiles”.

The Future of Aquatic Protein: Implications for Protein Sources in Aquaculture Diets. K Hua, JM Cobcroft, A Cole, K Condon, DR Jerry, A Mangott, C Praeger, MJ Vucko, C Zeng, K Zenger, JM Strugnell. One Earth (2019) 1 (3): 316-329 (open access)

Article details

  • Date
  • 02 December 2019
  • Source
  • James Cook University
  • Subject(s)
  • Animal nutrition
  • Aquaculture