On behalf of its 25,000 soybean producer-members, the American Soybean Association (ASA) outlined for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation the tremendous potential and benefits that offshore aquaculture could bring to
"ASA appreciates the Committee’s attention to offshore aquaculture, which soybean farmers have identified as a significant new market for
Many studies project a significant increase in global farmed-fish production over the next 15 years. Since 1990, the aquaculture industry has been growing at an average compound rate of around 10 percent a year. It is probably the world's fastest growing form of food production. With increasing seafood demand and declining capture fisheries, global aquaculture production will have to increase by 500 percent by the year 2025 to meet the projected needs of a world population of 8.5 billion people.
"Soybean producers are poised to take advantage of the growing demand for plant-based aquaculture feeds,"
Since 1992, soybean farmers have funded market development activities through ASA's International Marketing activities with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United Soybean Board (USB), primarily in
However, the carnivorous marine species are of great interest because of their importance in human nutrition and their high value to the aquaculture industry. Feed is the major cost for production of finfish, and at the heart of several issues concerning the role of aquaculture in producing wholesome human food and environmental sustainability.
"The challenge facing the aquaculture industry, both freshwater and marine, is to identify economically viable and environmentally friendlier alternatives to fish meal and fish oil on which many present aquafeeds are largely based," Metz said. "The anticipated growth internationally in aquaculture is expected to exceed the limited supply of fish meal and oil from wild-harvest in the next decade. Thus, the aquafeeds industry has recognized for several years that viable utilization of plant feedstuffs formulated in aquafeeds is an essential requirement for future development of aquaculture."
Such plant feedstuffs must provide healthy diets that will grow aquatic species economically with minimal environmental impact and provide product that is optimal for human health. In addition to concerns about the sustainability of fisheries resources, other issues such as the potential presence of organic and inorganic contaminants in fish meal and the net effect of demand-and-supply economics in the global market require enhanced efforts to evaluate reasonable alternatives such as plant feedstuffs.
Despite years of research funded both by government and industry, there are still unidentified factors in plant feedstuffs that limit its use in diets for carnivorous species, including most marine species of commercial importance, as well as salmon and trout. Nevertheless, globally, the international salmon aquaculture industry is clamoring for a source of protein that is stable in terms of cost, quality, and supply.