Sustainable, Scalable Feeds
Whether Cobia or Grouper, Snapper or Salmon, Yellowfin or Yellowtail, marine aquaculture has always faced one unifying challenge. The most popular, desirable marine species that are in highest demand from consumers and under the greatest pressure in the wild are all predators. To grow well, and to produce the high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that people are increasingly told to consume, these fish require the correct amount of proteins and oils in their diet. Up until recently this has left marine aquaculture producers in the tricky ecological position of having to use large proportions of wild-sourced fishmeal and fish oil in their feeds. At current production levels this is less of a problem than it may seem, as there are still sustainably managed fisheries that can meet this demand, such as the Peruvian Anchovy fishery that supplies the relatively low amounts of fishmeal and oil in current Kampachi diets.
However, wild fisheries are still subject to pressures outside our control, and increasing demand coupled with the unpredictable effects of climate change can wreak havoc with global fishmeal commodity prices. As open-ocean aquaculture expands we must wean the industry away from wild-caught products, if only because we cannot extract any more fishmeal from the oceans than is already being produced. To fulfill mariculture's great potential for environmental good, we cannot continue to catch wild fish to feed to our farmed fish forever.
With this in mind, Kampachi Farms has been heavily engaged in cutting-edge sustainable feeds research, and our work on replacing traditional wild-caught fishmeal and fish oil with alternative products has met with surprising sucess. We've found that Kampachi will readily accept a diet heavily supplemented with agricultural proteins such as U.S.-grown Soybeans, with growth and health performance equal to or exceeding traditional growout diets. Alternative marine products are promising as well, with processing plant waste providing a healthy protein concentrate that Kampachi can thrive on. Working in coordination with colleagues at USDA, we've also had success working with algal byproducts of Astaxanthin production, and with single-cell protein concentrates produced by fermenting biodigesters. In 2013, for the first time, we tested three different diet formulations with 0% fishmeal inclusion, which were functionally equivalent to our commercial growout diet.
These fish were from the same cohort and are pictured at the same point in their growout. The fish on the left were reared on a Soy-based diet, and the fish on the right were grown using the standard commercial Kampachi feed
This is a huge step along the pathway to commercialization of more sustainable, scalable aquafeeds. There will be no "silver bullet" answer to solve the thorny issue of feeds sustainability, but by building on our successes with alternative proteins, and continuing our research into sustainable fish oil replacement using soy, microalgae and yeast products, Kampachi Farms is paving the way for future feeds -- and future fish.