PICTURE: A Kampachi or Almaco Jack measured during a fish-free forage study at the Ocean Era facility in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. view More

Photo credit: © Ocean Era, Inc.

Researchers in Kona, Hawaii made the breakthrough in the development of an inexpensive “fish-free” food for farmed Kampachi or Almaco Jack, a carnivorous sea fish valued for its rich, buttery taste.

The ability to replace fishmeal and fish oil currently used in carnivorous marine fish diets will have important implications for the sustainability of the oceans and will meet the growing demand for seafood around the world.

The test results are listed in a technical article in the Advocate of the Global Aquaculture Alliance.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that fishmeal and fish oil have been completely eliminated from the diet of a marine carnivorous fish without harm,” said Neil Anthony Sims, CEO of Hawaii-based mariculture company Ocean Era, in which the process was conducted has been. “Kampachi is a fast-growing sashimi-quality fish. This is a major breakthrough in the sustainability and scalability of marine fish farming.”

Aquaculture, the fastest growing food sector in the world, uses more than 70 percent of the world’s fish oil and fish meal, which is obtained from forage fish such as sardines, anchovies and menhaden. Around 20 percent of the world’s wild catch, or 18 million tons of fish per year, is converted into fish meal and fish oil for use in animal feed.

During the three-month trial, funded by a Saltonstall-Kennedy grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 480 adolescent Kampachi (Seriola rivoliana) were fed one of four diets. Two of the diets did not contain fishmeal, and one of them did not contain fish oil either. The substitution of fishmeal was mainly based on poultry meal, which was obtained from upcycled poultry ingredients. The replacement of fish oil was achieved with Veramaris® natural seaweed oil, which contains a high proportion of two critical omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. A fish meal and fish oil diet was used as a control along with an additional commercial control diet. The fish were stored in 16 tanks for the comparative outgrowth test.

The fish fed the zero fish meal / zero fish oil diet were performed as well as the fish fed the fish meal and fish oil diet. Performance was assessed for growth, feed conversion ratio (FCR), fillet yield and survival. FCR is the ratio of the amount of feed needed to grow one kilogram of fish.

The fish fed the no fish meal / no fish oil diet also had a more desirable taste compared to the fish fed the commercially available control diet.

“The results clearly show that algae oil can replace 100 percent fish oil without reducing the growth of this marine fish,” said Rick Barrows, fish nutrition expert at Aquatic Feed Technologies and co-principal investigator on the study.

The feed formulations used in this study are available as open source formulas through the F3 Feed Innovation Network (F3 FIN) for anyone working to replace wild-caught fish ingredients in animal feed. F3 FIN promotes sustainable innovation in fish-free aquaculture feed ingredients by sharing experimental protocols, testing facilities and ingredient providers.

Algae oils have been shown to contain twice as much EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids as fish oil. Both are important for maintaining fish health and improving heart and brain health in humans.

“Developing diets that use these upcycling ingredients and microalgae oils is critical to the long-term scalability of marine fish culture and, therefore, our ability to sustainably nourish heart-healthy seafood on a planet of nine billion people,” said Sims.

The project, titled “Developing Low-Cost, Fish Meal-Free, Fish Oil-Minimized Diets for US Marine Fish Aquaculture,” was funded by NOAA’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program (NA18NMF4270208). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service sponsored the trial of feed milling. The Anthropocene Institute and the Ka’upulehu fish ponds were collaborative partners of the NOAA grant.

The Saltonstall-Kennedy Funding Program funds projects that address the needs of fishing communities, optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and improve other ways to keep functioning boardwalks viable.

A video of the study can be viewed on YouTube at the following address: https://youtu.be/rW9yk_U6z1U

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About Ocean Era, LLC:

Ocean Era, LLC (formerly Kampachi Farms, LLC) is a Kona, Hawaii-based research and development company committed to mitigating mankind’s footprint on the seas by expanding the production of the ocean’s living resources becomes.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the correctness of the press releases published on EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of information via the EurekAlert system.

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