NemiNatura, a producer of farmed trout in Mexico, announced this week that they will begin trials of aquafeed that is free of fishmeal, fish oil and animal products.
“NemiNatura has been a champion of aquaculture with a priority to the conservation of both nature and natural resources since our inception,” says Citlali Gomez-Lepe, NemiNatura CEO and founding member. “We use great care in all of our farms to leave the smallest disturbance possible in the land and water supply. I believe that the choice to move to a renewable food source that leaves forage fish in the ocean, where they belong, is the right choice for us and for the planet we all share.”
Gomez-Lepe and NemiNatura co-founding member Manuel Sarmiento will begin feed trials of the different products and formulations presented by contestants during the F3 Challenge meeting, which took place in early January 2017 in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“We need to use forage fish in a more clear and sustainable way for direct human consumption and for ecosystem services,” says Dr. Luis Bourillón, who is advising NemiNatura’s work on this project. “Using alternative ingredients for feed opens new possibilities for ecosystem restoration and for producing better trout in rural aquaculture operations. With better fish we can also encourage forest conservation and water management to support rural communities.”
“It is definitely a win-win solution,” he added.
The diet, developed with advice from fish nutritionist Dr. Frederic Barrows for San Francisco-based TwoXSea, utilizes natural marine algae to replace fish oil, as well as a variety of plant proteins to replace fishmeal. The resulting feed performs as well as conventional fish-based feeds, yet contains none of the toxic organic compounds elements that are known to bioaccumulate in fish.
“We began working with Dr. Barrows in 2009, when it became obvious that the standard of using wild-caught fish for aquafeed was a dead-end scenario,” says Kenny Belov, co-founder of TwoXSea. “We have been using our feed now for eight years, which is the foundation of our trout farm, McFarland Springs. We have always hoped that the industry would catch up and I am extremely proud and happy that our colleagues at NemiNatura will be the first farm to join us.”
NemiNatura and associated farms represents over 2 million pounds of trout produced per year. Switching to non-fish based feed will leave more than 12 million pounds of forage fish in the ocean for larger fish, such as cod, tuna and salmon, to survive.
“We are thrilled by NemiNatura’s commitment to support the efforts of the fish-free feed innovators that are participating in the F3 Challenge,” said University of Arizona Professor Kevin Fitzsimmons, the former president of the World Aquaculture Society and lead spokesperson for the F3 Challenge.
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. 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.