Skretting\'s Aquaculture Research Centre in Norway has extensively tested a fish food that is totally free of wild caught fishmeal, with positive results.
According to Dr Leo Nankervis, the company has gradually lowered the minimum level of fishmeal from 25 per cent to 5 per cent and studies show that could go to zero. No problems have yet emerged from long-term growth trials, but it has yet to be tested under commercial farming conditions.
\"At this point, taking all of the fishmeal out of the feed would actually increase the cost a little bit, so that\\\'s a challenging thing to put to our customers,\" said Dr Nankervis
\"But we are very close to having the confidence to be able to remove it totally from our minimum requirements.\"
The research comes at a good time for the industry, as the sector braces for a hike in the cost of fish food as a result of El Nino.
Marketing manager with Skretting Australia, Dr Rhys Hauler, said the company wanted to be absolutely confident about the impact of removing fishmeal from the formulation before introducing it to industry.
\"On a sustainability criteria, it would be a monumental moment for the industry, not being reliant on protein marine resources to grow salmon,\" he said.
Dr Jenna Bowyer, Skretting\'s sustainability and communications manager, said fish oil, as opposed to fishmeal, was a different story with extensive research underway to find alternative sources of long chain Omega 3s from algal and other sources.