The surge in fishmeal prices has forced commercial salmon farmers to re-think dietary ingredients, and they are now, more and more, turning to the vegetarian option.
The portortion of fishmeal in commercial salmon diets has fallen to as low as 7% from 60% 15 years ago. According to Magareth Øverland, director of the Aquaculture Protein Centre at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, this could go to zero.
The industry is testing the use of protein from biological yeast and Norwegian spruce trees, she added, in order to avoid competing with other livestock sectors which rely on grains and oilseeds.
Torben Svejgard, chief executive of BioMar, an international feed company based in Denmark, said there has “been a lot of research done” over the last decade to increase the number of raw materials used in fishfeed. According to Svejard, BioMar has spent over 10% of its annual profits on various research and development initiatives. And trials have shown that few consumers can taste the difference between fishmeal fed salmon and vegetarian salmon, he added.
And salmon is not the only industry looking for options. French researchers have succeeded in breeding vegetarian rainbow trout while in the US, some aquaculture farms had been able to grow the carnivorous fish cobia without fishmeal.
Source: Financial Times