July 25, 2024

Aquaculture Industry Requires Sustainable Aquafeeds

Nutritional Requirements of Farmed Fish and Shrimp

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production systems worldwide. As demand increases for seafood, aquaculture continues to play a vital role in meeting this demand. A key factor supporting sustainable and efficient aquaculture is nutritious and environmentally friendly aquafeeds. Farmed fish and shrimp have precise dietary needs that aquafeeds must meet to ensure optimal growth and health. Aquatic animals generally require protein levels between 25-60% of the diet, depending on the species and life stage. They also need essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for physiological functions and disease resistance. Getting the proper nutrient balance is important to maximize feed conversion and productivity while minimizing environmental impacts.

Source and Formulation of Ingredients

The main protein ingredients used in Aquafeeds include fishmeal and fish oil derived from small pelagic fish as well as plant proteins like soybean meal. While fishmeal and fish oil contain highly digestible nutrients well-suited for aquatic animals, overfishing concerns require their substitution. Alternative protein sources undergoing extensive research and use include animal by-product meals, insect meals, microbial proteins, and single-cell proteins. Feed formulators also consider nutrient digestibility, palatability, water stability, and manufacturing processes when selecting ingredients. Careful nutrient profiling helps ensure it provide balanced nutrition while using sustainably sourced ingredients. Feed pellet quality is another concern, as poorly manufactured feeds break down quickly and reduce feed efficiency in the water.

Advancing Aquafeed Sustainability through Innovation

The aquaculture industry continues working to develop sustainable and responsible feed solutions. One area of focus is new feed technologies to enhance the nutritional value and stability of alternative ingredients. For example, hydrothermal treatment and fermentation are being applied to some plant proteins to improve their digestibility for aquatic animals. Enzyme supplementation during feed manufacturing also aids in nutrient release from plant and algae ingredients. Researchers are working to apply single-cell proteins from microbial fermentation in them. Produced from natural gas or biomass feedstocks, these microbial proteins offer a renewable alternative with balanced amino acid profiles. Feed additives including prebiotics, probiotics, phytogenics and immunostimulants show promise for supporting fish and shrimp health while allowing reduced inclusion rates of expensive marine ingredients.

Regulations and Certification for Responsible Aquaculture

As reliance on aquaculture grows, regulations and industry standards work to promote sustainable and socially responsible practices. Feed producers aim to utilize only traceable and legally sourced ingredients under strict regulatory guidelines. For instance, the U.S. has banned the use of fishmeal and fish oil derived from illegally caught, unreported, or unregulated fish. Industry associations promote codes of conduct and certification programs like those from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. These standards require responsibly produced aquafeeds among other criteria for environmentally and socially accountable aquaculture operations. Looking ahead, “catch to feed to market” traceability systems will allow consumers and buyers confidence that products come from sustainable sources and practices. Regulations balanced with innovative technologies will guide further advances in environmentally friendly and nutritious aquafeeds.

Future Outlook for Sustainable Aquaculture Growth

With world population projections estimating close to 10 billion people by 2050, aquaculture will play an increasing role in meeting global seafood demand while reducing pressure on wild fisheries. However, the industry must embrace sustainable solutions to ensure its long-term growth and environmental responsibility. Technologies improving feed production efficiency and nutrient utilization hold opportunities to lessen aquaculture’s footprint. Alternative protein sources, feed additives, and processing methods enhancing the usage of sustainable ingredients show promise. Improved data collection and traceability establish consumer trust. Global partnerships and knowledge exchange further innovations. With commitment from industry and supportive regulations, aquaculture’s potential to provide nutritious food while conserving marine ecosystems can be realized through responsible practices and innovative aquafeed solutions tailored to meet aquatic animals’ nutritional needs.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it