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The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) on Thursday unveiled what’s it’s calling a “major breakthrough” in sustainable aquaculture — producing farmed marine fish with a fish in/fish out (FIFO) ratio of less than 1:1.

Over the past five years, U.S. soybean farmers have sponsored a series of feed trials for farmed marine fish to test the use of soy ingredients as a replacement for fishmeal and fish oil. Recent trials conducted by Kampachi Farms in Hawaii, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska, have produced farmed carnivorous fish with a FIFO ratio of 0.89:1.

An eight-month feed trial in 2011 tested an experimental diet of 40 percent soy protein concentrate (SPC) and a 50:50 blend of fish oil and high omega-3 soy oil against a standard commercial feed traditionally used to raise kampachi, a sashimi-grade Hawaiian yellowtail. With taurine, a non-essential amino acid, added to the SPC diet, the kampachi showed improved growth rates. Also, in controlled taste tests, consumers could not detect any difference from fish raised on a conventional diet, according to USSEC.

“Attaining a FIFO of under 1:1 has been the holy grail of marine fish feed research for some time,” said Neil Anthony Sims, president of Kampachi Farms. “We show here that we can produce premium, sashimi-grade fish with a net increase in marine proteins — that is, we produce more fish than our fish eat. This represents a significant step forward for the economics and the ecological efficiencies of marine fish culture.”

This year, Kampachi Farms will run trials to test refined diets with the SPC and soy oil as well as incorporating a strain of microalgae into these experimental feeds as a natural source of taurine and EPA and DHA, the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Future research will also include a market analysis of the cost effectiveness of these diets.

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The SeaWeb Seafood Summit brings together global representatives from the seafood industry with leaders from the conservation community, academia, government, and the media for in-depth discussions, presentations, and networking around the issue of sustainable seafood. Read More