DuPont and AquaChile announce sustainable aquaculture partnership

DuPont and AquaChile have entered into a partnership that will join together the collective innovation and aquaculture expertise of the companies to sustainably raise fish and provide nutritious protein for a growing population
July 21, 2011

DuPont and AquaChile have entered into a partnership that will join together the collective innovation and aquaculture expertise of the companies to sustainably raise fish and provide nutritious protein for a growing population.

The partnership began in 2007 with an initial focus on Atlantic salmon. Farming of salmon and trout is an estimated $10 billion business globally and growing 6-10 percent annually due to growing consumer demand for healthy seafood. During the course of the partnership, several new innovations have been discovered in consultation with leading non-governmental organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) through its Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. The partners have developed a new feeding strategy that dramatically reduces the need for wild-caught feeder fish by 75 percent, as part of the salmon’s diet. It is based on a breakthrough new feed ingredient developed by DuPont.

“DuPont is committed to the evolution of aquaculture. We believe our biotechnology capabilities can accelerate the transformation of this market with more environmentally friendly solutions,” said DuPont BioMaterials Vice President John P. Ranieri. “Our partnership with AquaChile has created innovations that set new standards for the sustainable farming of salmon and we are committed to finding new solutions that will revolutionize the industry itself.”

“Our business model is about continuously working to improve our farming methods, therefore raising the healthiest salmon possible while lessening our impact on the ocean’s resources,” said AquaChile CEO Alfonso Marquez de la Plata. “We strive to raise this new generation of salmon in a way that offers our customers a more consciously farmed fish that will meet their highest standards of taste and quality.”

According to the WWF, salmon is now one of the most popular fish species in the United States, Europe and Japan. Total salmon production has increased three-fold since 1980 to meet this demand. The largest growth has been in farmed, not wild caught, salmon. Approximately 60 percent (or approximately 1.2 million metric tons) of the world's salmon comes from fish farms. Norway and Chile produce close to two-thirds of the world's farmed salmon. Chile's extensive coastal areas and close proximity to a large and clean source of fish meal make it a prime location for salmon aquaculture.

To meet this growing consumer need for salmon while reducing the impact on the oceans, the salmon are raised in low-density pens, and pen locations are rotated on a strict regimen to minimize impact on the surrounding waters.

Aquaculture, including salmon production, currently uses about 50 percent of the fishmeal and 80 percent of the fish oil produced from the global catch of feeder fish. DuPont has developed an innovative yeast that is rich in long-chain Omega-3s to replace the fish oil in the salmon diet, greatly reducing the need for feeder fish. Today, typically about four kilograms of feeder fish are used to produce the fish oil needed to raise one kilogram of farmed salmon. The new diet requires only one kilogram of wild fish per kilogram of salmon, or 75 percent fewer feeder fish, while maintaining the levels of Omega-3s required for the salmon to be healthy and nutritious. This new approach to salmon aquaculture has been successfully implemented in AquaChile’s commercial farms in the Patagonia region of Chile. The first salmon from these farms will be introduced to limited customers through market testing in the United States this September.

This new yeast-based feed ingredient was developed by DuPont after more than seven years of research and provides a new land-based source of the essential nutrient EPA, a long-chain Omega-3. Long chain Omega-3s are required for the natural health of the salmon. Salmon is also recognized as one of the best sources of these essential heart-healthy nutrients in human diets. The DuPont Omega-3 technology is covered by more than 55 patents and is a breakthrough in metabolic engineering.

The DuPont-AquaChile partnership reflects DuPont’s overall commitment to finding innovative ways to feed a growing population. DuPont also is delivering advanced seed genetics to improve productivity and nutritional value, crop protection products to protect crop yield and quality, and innovative packaging that preserves food quality and testing systems to ensure food safety.

This joint program is part of a larger effort by AquaChile to establish more sustainable aquaculture practices and reduce reliance on fish oil. Both companies intend to extend this partnership to other related species and continue to drive advancements in aquaculture practices to improve environmental performance and drive down costs.