Source: phys.org by University of Stirling
Substituting fishmeal in aquaculture feeds with plant ingredients may not be as beneficial for the environment as many predict, according to new research from an international team of experts.
Manufacturers of commercial fish feed are increasingly substituting fishmeal – a powder made from fish – with crop-based ingredients in a move driven by economic incentives and a desire to improve the sustainability of aquafeed.
While this approach is widely recognised as being more environmentally friendly, the new study – led by Ph.D. researcher Wesley Malcorps, from the University of Stirling's Institute of Aquaculture – challenges this popular theory.
The multidisciplinary team researched the trade-offs between marine and terrestrial resources as a result of adopting this common practice in shrimp feeds. The researchers focused on the shrimp industry, as it is one of the dominant consumers of fishmeal in the aquaculture sector.
The research found that the substitution of fishmeal with plant ingredients merely moved pressures from finite marine resources to land-based food production systems, with environmental repercussions. The experts involved in the work are now calling for a "paradigm shift" in thinking around the relative sustainability of aquafeed ingredients.