The F3 Fish-Free Challenges announced earlier this week that eight multi-national teams have qualified to participant in the global fish-free feed technology contest. Contestants from Thailand, Indonesia, China, South Africa, Australia, Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), the Netherlands, Belgium, and the U.S. are advancing to the first sales reporting stage of the multi-stage contest to develop fish-free feed for the aquaculture industry.
The F3 Fish-Free Feed Challenge launched in Nov. 2015 on the HeroX crowdfunding site to encourage innovation of alternative ingredients for aquaculture fishfeeds, improve the industry\'s sustainability, and to reduce pressure on wild-caught fish to supply fishfeed components. The contest is intended to help catalyze the development and sale of cost-competitive, viable aquafeeds free of fishmeal and fish oils.
“While the global aquaculture industry has made strides to stretch the limited amount of fishmeal and fish oil to rear more fish and shrimp, there is a severe need to find alternatives to these marine products to feed aquaculture-raised fish,” said University of Arizona Professor Kevin Fitzsimmons, the former president of the World Aquaculture Society and lead spokesperson for the F3 Challenge.
Eight registered teams have submitted a specimen of feed that they want to qualify for the contest, which are currently being analyzed to ensure they are free of fishmeal and fish oils.
The first company to produce and sell 100,000 metric tons (MT) of aquafeeds that do not contain marine animal meal or oil will be awarded a more than $200,000 prize to support their fish-free aquafeed business. If none of the contestants have met the 100,000 MT target by Sept. 15, 2017, the prize will go to the company closest to the target.
Contestants range from companies with their own mills and farms with multinational sales and hundreds of employees to start-up farms and ingredient companies with just a dozen employees. Farms and ingredient suppliers partnered with feedmills to form larger teams. Companies submitted feeds for a range of seafood including shrimp, tilapia and trout.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, New England Aquarium, University of Arizona and World Bank are sponsoring the F3 Challenge, with additional donations to support the administrative costs of running the prize.
An intent of the contest is to ensure that the feeds are at least as nutritious for the farmed-raised seafood being fed and that the final seafood produced is just as nutritious for consumers.
“Eventually we would like to see that fishmeal free seafood would be considered as sustainable and good for the environment as grass-fed beef or free-range poultry,” said Fitzsimmons.
Teams are expected to report their first quarterly sales figures in Jan. 2017. The F3 Challenge team is optimistic that the 100,000 MT target, which would represent a major milestone in validating the market viability of fish-free feeds, will be met.