Microalgae for salmon feed. (Photo: fiskepleje.dk| FIS)
Tesco encourages sustainable feeding practices in the aquaculture industry
Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 23:10 (GMT + 9)
As part of its Little Helps Plan commitment to lead the industry in addressing the key sustainability challenges in its supply chain, Tesco has been exploring how more algal oil can be incorporated into the diet of fish that they sell, starting with salmon, its most popular species of farmed fish.
"We have been working collaboratively with our key salmon suppliers to support them scale up the use of more sustainable feed ingredients, such as omega-3 rich algal oil. Encouragingly, one of our main suppliers in Norway has already started to supply us with some salmon that were partially fed with omega-3 oils from algal oil", the retail company says.
"To build on this development, we are in the process of updating our own brand farmed salmon standards with targets to reduce the amount of wild-caught fish that is fed to the salmon we source. While this is a positive step, transitioning the entire aquaculture industry to more sustainable feeds such as algal oil will require the commitment from many businesses and organisations."
The retail company highligths that the perhaps the most promising alternative to conventional fish oil for aquaculture is algal oil, which is extracted from farmed micro-algae with naturally high levels of omega-3 oils, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
These farmed algae can be grown at an industrial scale on land, so there is no need to harvest more marine algae – or fish – for aquaculture. One tonne of algal oil provides the equivalent amount of omega-3 EPA & DHA as fish oil produced from 60 tonnes of wild-caught fish. So there is great potential for algal oil to partially replace, and possibly one day completely replace, conventional fish oil.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the global conservation charity, is supportive of this innovation. Dr. Piers Hart, Seafood and Aquaculture Specialist, WWF-UK said: “WWF is very supportive of Tesco in their effort to reduce the use of fish oil in their salmon feed. WWF has been working on alternative raw materials in animal feeds, including fish feeds, for some time and identified the potential of algal oils early on. The production of ingredients for feeds has significant impacts in regard to land use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss.”
Nigel Edwards, CSR Director at Seachill, one of Tesco’s fish suppliers, said: “The salmon industry has grown rapidly over the last 30 years, with huge steps forward in feed efficiency and farming technology. But to grow further the industry needs novel sustainable sources of omega-3 oils, which are essential to both fish and human health. Algal oils are a natural solution and we are proud to work with the leading innovative salmon farmers and their partner feed producers to encourage investment in them and increase their use.”