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Insects and fish feed
While almost 50% of fish and seafood raised through aquaculture do not require feed for other species (e.g. salmon and trout), as aquaculture has grown, so too has the demand for fishmeal and fish oil as feed ingredients. And aquaculture is not the only sector using fishmeal. The demand by the pork and poultry industry is about 30% of the global production for fishmeal as a feed ingredient as well.
Forage fisheries which are the source of fishmeal and fish oil are finite and the El Niño weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean has a dramatic impact on the availability of this resource. Ultimately, fluctuations of fishmeal and fish oil production caused by El Niño result in shortages and high prices. Thus while fishmeal and fish oil is widely viewed as the most nutritious feed ingredient, it is not necessarily the most cost effective.
To reduce costs and dependence on fishmeal and fish oil much research has been devoted to alternative fish feed ingredients. Innovation has been particularly successful in the reduction of fishmeal and fish oil in farmed salmon feed. For example, in 1990, a typical salmon feed contained approximately 59% fishmeal and 24% fish oil, by 2015 the percentage of fishmeal dropped to approximately 12-13% and fish oil to 7-9%. While vegetable protein has replaced the lion’s share of fishmeal, more natural innovations are on the way.
When we think of recreational fishing, often times we think of a fly fisherman casting for salmon or trout in a babbling brook. While it is natural for fish to eat insects, did you know that until December of 2016 EU regulations prohibited insect protein as a feed ingredient? Now, as of 1 July 2017, insect proteins can be included in fish feed. There is an entire industry in Europe promoting the use of insects for food and feed. The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) represents the interests of the industry.
To learn more about insects as food and feed ingredients follow this link.