Scientists at the University of Liverpool are developing a new plant-based product that could replace fishmeal, reducing the need for farmers to feed fish to other fish at a time when more than 90% of EU waters are at risk from overfishing.
It is estimated that in order to satisfy consumer need for fish in an expanding human population, the UK market would need to increase supplies by more than 1.9 million tonnes by 2035.
Currently farmed fish, such as salmon, are fed food containing fishmeal, which means that several kilograms of wild fish are consumed to produce one kilogram of farmed fish. This has fuelled concerns that there could be a global shortage of fish in the next 20 years.
To help sustain fish stocks, the aquaculture industry is working towards replacing fishmeal with plant proteins, such as soya. The difficulty with this approach, however, is that many plants contain anti-nutrients that prevent digestive enzymes from working, resulting in poor digestion and failure to absorb important nutrients.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool are now leading a consortium including University of the Highlands and Islands; international feed manufacturer, Skretting; the UK's leading supplier of farmed sea bass, Anglesey Aquaculture; and University of Nottingham based company, Eminate, to resolve this issue by fermenting plant protein sources, which will use 'good bacteria' to predigest food and make nutrients more available for absorption in the gut.
Dr Iain Young, from the University's Institute of Integrative Biology, explains: "Using fishmeal means that you are feeding fish to fish. With the increasing demand for fish, in a human population that is set to reach just over nine billion in the next 20 years, this approach will continue to deplete fish stocks. Food based on soya and other beans has been tested as a possible replacement for fishmeal, but unfortunately carnivorous fish don't maintain go
|Contact: Samantha Martin|
University of Liverpool