Home » Water » How a sustainable feed solution is supporting aquaculture growth

Karim Kurmaly

CEO, Veramaris

Traditional aquaculture feed — containing essential nutrients derived from wild catch fish — is impacting the marine environment. Thankfully, a more sustainable solution is available.

The practice of farming seafood — otherwise known as aquaculture — plays a critical role in feeding the world’s growing population.

Yet there’s a big challenge facing the aquaculture industry, explains Karim Kurmaly, CEO of Veramaris, a biotech start-up which produces a ASC-MSC certified sustainable algae-based Omega-3 oil for feed applications. “The ability for sustainable aquaculture to expand is immense,” he agrees. “However, the conundrum is that fish need both EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to grow, remain healthy and deliver health benefits to us, as consumers.”

In the wild this isn’t an issue because fish obtain their Omega-3s via their natural diets. However, in aquaculture, feed must be supplemented with EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids, traditionally achieved by adding fish oil derived from wild caught pelagic fisheries, many of which have been overfished.

Feeding farmed fish in this way is a problem on two fronts, notes Kurmaly. “First, there are simply not enough wild fish in the ocean to sustain the growth of aquaculture,” he says. “And second, simply reducing Omega-3 fatty acids in feed is not an answer, as this will compromise fish health and the nutritional benefits of fish to consumers.

Farmed fish can become more independent of wild fish in their diets, and thereby reduce the disruption of marine food chains.

The innovation of sustainable alternative feed ingredients

It’s a challenge which the aquaculture industry has tried to address by reducing the amount of fish oil in feed and replacing it with plant oils. “Unfortunately, plant oils don’t include the essential Omega-3 fatty acids that farmed fish need,” notes Kurmaly. “Also, eating fish that are rich in both EPA & DHA Omega-3s is important for human health and nutrition.”

A number of innovative sustainable feed ingredients are now available at scale which can help reduce the impact of aquaculture feed on wild fish stocks. For example, Veramaris produces a natural marine algal oil which is a highly potent source of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids.

“We achieve this through a proprietary fermentation technology and can provide a sustainable source of EPA & DHA Omega-3s,” says Kurmaly, explaining that their algal oil can substitute and even fully replace fish oil. “It means that farmed fish can become more independent of wild fish in their diets, and thereby reduce the disruption of marine food chains. Making this change would help maintain marine biodiversity and allow for the continued growth of aquaculture.”

As today’s shoppers are more discerning about their food choices, especially with regards to sustainability issues, Kurmaly states, “We’re seeing retailers take a closer look at the aquaculture supply chain and how they can, together with their suppliers, provide more sustainable choices for consumers such as algal oil fed salmon.” Only through collaboration, innovation and sustainability can we ensure the aquaculture industry can continue to provide nutritious food for the ever-growing population.

Next article