How a wise use of marine resources could support the growth of the aquaculture industry?

A new study has found that reducing the amount of marine-derived natural resources in the diet of farmed Atlantic salmon will safeguard the future of aquaculture industry into the next century.

August 23, 2022

A new study by Deakin University researchers has found that reducing the amount of marine-derived natural resources, such as fishmeal and fish oil, in the diet of farmed Atlantic salmon will safeguard the future of this rapidly growing aquaculture industry into the next century.

The study, published recently in Nature Food, outlines how consumer demand for salmon across the globe is driving rapid growth in the Atlantic salmon aquaculture industry, and how that future expansion may be determined by how wisely fishmeal and fish oil are used in the coming decades.

The research team, from Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, used predictive modeling to forecast industry growth based on different dietary formulations in feeds for Atlantic salmon.

They also evaluated the impact this would have on the nutritional value of the fish, particularly on levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are thought to guard against heart attack and stroke, and are also tied to a lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.

Farmed salmon are fed a combination of land and marine-derived ingredients, including fish oil and fishmeal, which are produced from wild-caught forage fish such as anchovies. Incorporating 3% fish oil and 3% fishmeal in aquaculture feeds could permit 2% per year production growth until 2100 — independent of novel aquaculture feeds that are currently being utilized.

According to the lead researcher, Associate Professor David Francis, the modeling presents a positive outlook for sustainable fish production, however, the need remains for ongoing refinement of feed formulations.

“The continued development and adoption of novel raw materials will further decrease the current reliance on finite marine resources, specifically fish oil and fishmeal,” Francis said. “We envisage that this study will progress the conversation on balancing the development of the aquaculture industry with the conservation of fisheries.”

Deakin will construct a $9.8 million state-of-the-art aquaculture research innovation center on the Waurn Ponds campus in 2023. The $9.8 million Aquaculture and Feed Innovation Hub (AquaFI Hub) includes contributions from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF).