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8.2.5 Developing Low-Cost, High-nutrition Plant-based Feed for Finfish Aquaculture Operations


Summary: The U.S. imports more than 80% of the seafood we eat by value, half of which is from aquaculture produced in other nations. Future projections show that there will be a global supply gap, and the U.S. could position itself to help fill the shortfall. Although a small producer, the U.S. is a major player in global aquaculture, supplying a variety of advanced technology, feed, equipment, and investment to other producers around the world. Domestically, the U.S. marine aquaculture industry contributes to the nation’s food security and supports a growing amount of economic activity in coastal communities and at working waterfronts in every coastal state and the Great Lakes. Currently, most production – approximately two-thirds by value – consists of bivalve mollusks such as oysters, clams, and mussels, while salmon and shrimp constitute most of the rest. Rapid advances in research and technology have helped catalyze the expansion of this industry to include a greater diversity of finfish species that can be raised in monoculture or multi-trophic operations (i.e., pens that include seaweed, shellfish, and/or finfish). Though there are many variables that may affect the profitability of a commercial finfish operations, getting easily accessible, costeffective and nutritious feed that has minimal impact on the surrounding environment significantly affects the bottom-line for all producers. While finfish aquaculture operations in the past have relied upon fishmeal or fish processing byproducts as a primary ingredient for the feed, using fish to produce more fish is expensive, wasteful, at times difficult to obtain, and creates other untended impacts to the environment. In recent years, significant scientific advances have been made to create fish feeds that are comprised mostly of plant-based products, with the addition of essential proteins, vitamins and amino acids needed for fish survival and rapid growth. There have also been many advances in making the feeds water soluble, which can help mitigate some of the excess organic waste from accumulating on the seafloor below the cages that may, exacerbate water quality problems in adjacent areas.


Project Goals: The goal is to have a business develop and market a low-cost, highly-nutritious plant-based feed that can be used as feed for a variety of finfish aquaculture operations. The potential 74 market for such cost-effective and environmentally safe fish feeds is huge, ranging from commercial finfish aquaculture operations to fish hatcheries used to augment species recovery in the U.S. and around the world. The project would provide funds and incentive for a business to comprehensively assess the rapidly changing scientific advances related to fish feeds for various species, assess needs from the commercial industry, and develop a commercially viable product that can be used to feed fish, while minimizing impacts to ecosystems or the water quality. If successful, this effort could contribute to establishing the U.S. as a leader in the production of non-fish protein feed for aquaculture products world-wide.

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