Many are familiar with farmed salmon, catfish or tilapia. But there are many more potential species, says a research scientist at an aquaculture facility here.
“When you compare fish farming to terrestrial farming we have thousands of different fish species that we could potentially farm… and when you compare that to terrestrial farming we have one species of chicken,” Philip Lyons with Alltech Coppens Aqua Centre told a tour of journalists attending the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Annual Congress.
He said that as food production shifts to a more sustainable model, aquaculture might have a role to play as a sustainable protein source. As of 2014, fish accounted for almost 17 per cent of the global population’s protein intake, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Fish can be farmed in smaller spaces due to advancements in water facilities, which helps make aquaculture more sustainable. Many aquaculture facilities now use recirculation systems allowing for water to be filtered and recirculated rather than relying on continuous supplies, allowing them to be located anywhere, not just near rivers and lakes. It lowers transportation costs by allowing aquaculture facilities to be close to markets.
At Alltech Coppens the researchers are working on developing new food sources for fish, along with raising ornamental fish for sale. Lyons said there are a lot of sustainable protein feed sources for fish to eat instead of fish meal and other ocean-derived food sources.
He said many companies are feeding insect meal derived from mealworms or soldier fly protein, as well as bacterial meal, which is easy to produce and environmentally friendly.
“I think the biggest thing will be when those raw material sources are affordable or competitive with fish meal or proteins that are derived from the sea because at the moment they’re much more expensive. So feed producers can’t afford to put them into their formulations yet,” he said.