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Microalgae - addressing the fishmeal bottle neck

17th April 2018

With global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, one of the biggest challenges for the world's growing population is the efficient means of protein production. Demand for animal protein is estimated to increase by as much as 80% by mid-century, fuelled by population growth and increasing middle-class spending power, especially within Asia. Land for farming in most regions throughout the world is at a premium, and thus food systems for the future are increasingly turning to water.

Aquaculture, one of the world's fastest-growing industries, now produces over half of the global seafood supply according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Protein and energy retention of farmed animals is an issue that is gaining attention. Studies show carnivorous farmed fish species such as sea bass and salmon, which are raised on aquaculture feeds retain more protein and energy and have a greater edible yield than their terrestrial counterparts.

One of the biggest obstacles for further expansion of the aquaculture industry is to overcome and further reduce its dependencies on the finite resources of fishmeal and fish oil. The industry has made considerable gains in this area, moving to the incorporation of novel protein sources and other feed ingredients within the feed formulations to reduce this dependency. Aquaculture produces have successfully utilised plant-based ingredients in feed formulations, such as soy and soy-based proteins for many years. However, in recent years the industry has moved towards insects, single-cell organisms and microalgae in the search for fishmeal and fish oil replacements.

Although the production of emerging fishmeal and fish oil alternative ingredients is small in scale, the aquaculture industry has started to source limited quantities of these ingredients which are being incorporated into species specific aquaculture feed formulations. There is considerable innovation in this sector, which is leading to positive economic impacts as the major feed companies and emerging aquaculture businesses invest in new technologies for alternative ingredients.

Microalgae:

Orkney Shellfish Hatchery is also innovating in this area, investing in the production of microalgae not only for its planned production of its premium mollusc, finfish and shellfish products, but is also planning to incorporate microalgae into a range of its aquaculture feed products, providing specialised nutrition solutions to the aquaculture industry. The tailormade products will consist of biomass, pastes, emulsions and pelletized feeds, with a range of pelletized feeds to be proprietary produced for Shellfish Hatchery Systems and its innovative Aquahive product for the culture of clawed lobsters (both European and American clawed lobsters).

The products for Shellfish Hatchery Systems will be available for both existing and new customers, and are planned to be available for purchase in late 2018 from the products page on their website (www.aquahive.co.uk).

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