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WA research and grains help feed the world’s farmed fish

Western Australian research is now helping to feed fish in aquaculture projects across the world and is providing another valuable market for the State’s grain farmers

September 24, 2008

WA research and grains help feed the world’s farmed fish

 

Western Australian research is now helping to feed fish in aquaculture projects across the world and is providing another valuable market for the State’s grain farmers.

The Aquaculture Feed Grains Program has brought together private and public sector partners, who saw the potential of developing a sustainable, nutritionally-sound product to feed farmed fish and create a new and growing export market.

Department of Fisheries research scientist Dr Brett Glencross said, with aquaculture developing as the fastest growing primary industry in the world, the traditional sources of fish feed would have meant a major constraint to growth and put further pressure on wild stocks. Traditional feed relied on fish oils and fishmeal, sourced from wild caught stocks.

“We have been able to develop a lupin-based fish feed from a renewable resource that is not only sustainable, but also provides great benefits for WA grain growers from additional sales of value-added lupin products,” Dr Glencross said.

“Tomorrow, delegates from the 12th International Lupin Conference will be visiting the Department of Fisheries at Hillarys to see and hear about my research and, on Thursday at the Conference in Fremantle, I will be presenting a review of the nine year development path that has led to many scientific discoveries and technical improvements, as well as spawning a new, locally based, value-adding industry”.

“WA now has the largest lupin processing plant of its kind in the world and we are now seeing lupins being used in fish feeds supporting aquaculture industries nationally and in many countries, including Norway, Chile, Japan, Thailand and New Zealand.

“This is really a story of success for two industries – using lupins to provide a high protein feed for fish increases their value as a crop to the grain farmer and it also provides a way for aquaculture to continue to grow to meet the world demand for fish and help take the pressure off wild stocks, when many fisheries are declining.”

Dr Glencross said in recent years WA growers had supplied up to 80 per cent of Australia’s lupin production, from an important rotational crop that helped to replenish soil nitrogen after wheat growing.

“The advent of using lupins in fish food has seen a big increase in sales to the aquaculture sector over the past five years. Salmon farms involved in Tasmania’s booming aquaculture industry are among the growing list of customers for this new fish food ingredient,” he said.

“Although our research has clearly delivered improved aquaculture sustainability and also generated new, higher-value, markets for the grain sector, we are continuing to enhance our knowledge on the application of grains in fish feeds to develop premium grain varieties and also niche fish feed products for the rapidly growing aquaculture sector.”

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