News / Science & Technology

As Ocean Supply Dries Up, Fishing For a Feed Alternative

A trout farm project in the state of Potosi, Bolivia, March 28, 2013. With the supply of wild-caught fish dwindling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to develop a fishless feed that carnivores, such as rainbow trout, salmon and tuna, will actually eat.
A trout farm project in the state of Potosi, Bolivia, March 28, 2013. With the supply of wild-caught fish dwindling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to develop a fishless feed that carnivores, such as rainbow trout, salmon and tuna, will actually eat.
Tom Banse
The search is on for a cost-effective alternative to traditional commercial feed pellets given to farmed fish.

Wild-caught fish are a key ingredient in these commercial feeds but that presents a problem because the amount of ocean-caught fish has plateaued while the global aquaculture industry continues to grow. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with fish farmers and university researchers to develop a fishless feed that carnivores, such as salmon, rainbow trout and tuna, will actually eat.

Taste test

That's what brings dozens of taste test volunteers to Washington State University's School of Food Science's test kitchen.

They are presented with three samples of trout - plain, poached pieces of fish that are all alike, except for how they were raised; one was fed fish meal, another ate animal proteins and the third ingested a mostly vegetarian diet.

Some testers report a little bit of "grassy" flavor from what turned out to be the vegetarian-fed trout fillet. The trout raised on traditional fish meal had slightly more fishy flavor and aroma. The trout that ate chicken byproducts did not taste like chicken.
Trout samples at the Washington State University School of Food Science. Alternative feeds resulted in slightly different colors and textures in trout fillets. (VOA/T. Banse)Trout samples at the Washington State University School of Food Science. Alternative feeds resulted in slightly different colors and textures in trout fillets. (VOA/T. Banse)

The definition of success in this aquaculture experiment would be for the non-fish alternative diets to yield fish that taste more or less the same as those raised on the current fish-based feed.

"I think they are getting close," said Professor Carolyn Ross, who has been conducting these taste tests since 2008. "Certainly, there are differences between samples, but whether that is a game changer or not is a different question. So yes, I can tell one has a more fishy aroma. I can tell one is firmer. But if you're sitting down at home having a BBQ, it's not going to make a big difference."

Hitting the limit

Aquaculture is a huge industry worldwide, especially in Asia, where the production of farmed fish, eels and shrimp dwarfs the production on all other continents combined. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports that farming of fish that eat pond plants or bottomfeed - like carp, catfish and tilapia - is expanding slower than production of carnivorous species - such as salmon, rainbow trout and tuna. That makes the search for a cost-effective alternative to fish-based feed more urgent.

It's the industry’s number one priority, according to longtime fish farmer Leo Ray of Idaho, the leading trout producing state in the United States. Ray says fish meal that cost $300 per ton about 15 years ago, now runs close to $2,000.

"We knew this was coming," Ray said. "There is a limit on the amount of fish meal the ocean can produce and we've hit that limit."

Ray says the suppliers he buys from have already reduced the wild fish content in commercial feeds somewhat. He and his competitors in southern Idaho have gladly tested all sorts of alternative diets. They've fed their fish poultry byproducts, corn and soybean protein, coconut oil, and ground up insect larvae.

"Salmon are harder to wean off fish meal," Ray said, pointing out that other farmed species, like tilapia, could fairly easily be converted to a plant-based diet. But he doubts going completely vegetarian is the answer.

"We have healthier fish if we put a little bit of fish meal in the diet. I think what we will end up with is a diet that instead of using 20 or 30 percent fish meal, we'll be using five percent fish meal."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the effort extends to other aquaculture species as well. Parallel studies are testing alternative feeds for farmed Atlantic salmon and several species of warm water fish. Separate studies by university researchers in Texas and Alabama have investigated plant-based diets for farmed shrimp.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid