1. Australian CSIRO scientists have perfected the Novacq
Until now, Australian prawn farmers have needed to feed their prawns with a pellet that includes some sustainably sourced fish meal or fish oil, in order to ensure that the prawns grew fast, and were a healthy and high quality product for consumers.
Novacq is an entirely natural food source based on the smallest organisms in the marine environment, the marine microbes which are the foundation of the marine food pyramid.
Production of Novacq relies on the controlled production of these marine microbes. CSIRO researchers have discovered how to feed and harvest them, and convert them into a product that can then be added to feeds as a bioactive ingredient, like a dietary supplement for prawns.
Including Novacq in the diet of farmed prawns has shown for the first time that fish meal and fish oil can be completely replaced in the prawn diet, potentially freeing the prawn aquaculture industry from reliance on wild fishery resources.
2. For the first time scientists have been able to develop a completely vegetarian diet that works for marine fish raised in aquaculture, the key to making aquaculture a sustainable industry as the world’s need for protein increases. The findings led by Aaron Watson and Allen Place at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology, are published in the August issue of the journal Lipids.
Nearly half of the world’s fish and shellfish supply is supplied by aquaculture—growing fish in tanks or ponds instead of catching them from the oceans or streams—and scientists have been trying to figure out how to make growing fish sustainable. Many high-value fish such as cobia, sea bream, and striped bass are predators and eat other fish to survive and grow. As a result, their food in captivity is made of a combination of fishmeal and fish oil, and must be caught from the wild to feed them. This is expensive (for example, it can take 5 pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of fish), and it further depletes the world’s fisheries.
“This makes aquaculture completely sustainable,” said Dr. Allen Place. “The pressure on natural fisheries in terms of food fish can be relieved. We can now sustain a good protein source without harvesting fish to feed fish.”
l with a blend of plant protein sources to completely eliminate the need for fishmeal and fish oil in diets for cobia and other high-value marine carnivores.
Fish meal was replaced with a food made of corn, wheat, and soy. Fish oil—expensive and scarce thanks in part to its popularity as a health supplement for people—was replaced with soybean or canola oil, supplemental lipids from algae sources, and amino acid supplements, such as taurine. An amino acid used in energy drinks, taurine plays a critical role in the metabolism of fats, stress responses, and muscle growth, and is found in high levels in carnivorous fish and their prey.
In addition to the potential to turn aquaculture into a more profitable enterprise and ease the pressure on catching wild fish, raising fish on a vegetarian diet also means cleaner fish to eat, with levels of PCBs and mercury as much as 100-fold lower.
“Right now, you are only supposed to eat striped bass once every two weeks,” said Place. “You can eat aquaculture-raised fish twice a week because levels are so low.”
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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