March 15, 2016
Growing shift to plant-based aquafeed
The aquaculture industry is moving away from traditional feed made from fish and increasing the use of plant-based ingredients in its feed, a new analysis from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and McGill University said.
Until recently, manufactured feed was typically composed of high levels of fishmeal and fish oil derived from wild fish, but it has become unsustainable to catch more wild fish to feed growing numbers of farmed fish, so the industry has shifted the makeup of the feed.
Soybean meal, for example, was twice as much used in commercial aquaculture feed in 2008 as compared to fishmeal, and the use of crop-based ingredients is projected to increase 124% between 2008 and 2020.
"Our review found that increasing plant-based ingredients can change the fatty acid content in farmed fish, which can affect human nutrition", said study leader Dr. Jillian Fry, director of CLF's Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project and a faculty member at the Bloomberg School.
Graham MacDonald, assistant professor in the Department of Geography at McGill University said, "Currently, only a small fraction of terrestrial agriculture is used to feed farmed fish. However, the aquaculture industry is growing rapidly. A clearer picture is needed of where and how these crop-based feed ingredients are produced so we can assess the implications of this growing industry for agriculture and the environment".