A recent discovery in the aquaculture industry may soon make camelina oil a highly sought alternative for fish feed.
Currently half of the world’s seafood supply comes from farmed fish, but fish meal from wild stock is still part of the ration, putting a strain on the population.
“The proportion of wild fish that is going towards industrial use as opposed to feeding people is very high and this roundabout way of supplying nutrients isn’t very sustainable,” said Stefanie Hixson, post-doctoral fellow at the department of chemistry and biology at Ryerson University. “It is also getting more and more expensive for commercial feed companies to purchase fish oil and so the commercial fish feed industry is looking for an environmentally and economically sustainable alternative for fish oil, and that is where camelina comes in.”
Fish farms have been exploring crop-based oilseeds like soybeans and canola as a substitute to fish oil. Researchers have found that camelina is the best match to the fatty acid composition required.
Hixson explored the connection between fish oil and camelina oil in a $6.1-million project supported by Genome Atlantic, the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency and the Atlantic Innovation Fund.
The four-year project was the first of its kind and focused on evaluating camelina oil as an ingredient for fish feed. Results of the project have been used to apply for CFIA approval for camelina in fish rations.
“I definitely see this being approved by CFIA and I also see interest from seed companies. Some of the large, big players in the industry are interested in using camelina, they are just waiting for the final OK from CFIA,” Hixson said.
“Camelina oil comes close to matching fish oil but it is missing two key fatty acids, which are ETA and DHA. Even replacing a majority of the fish oil with camelina oil, you will still need to put a little bit of fish meal and fish oil in the diet,” Hixson said.