In Depth: How Algal Oil for Aquaculture Could Help Capture Value in the Food Industry

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Estimates peg the global aquaculture industry at about a $175 billion market, expected to grow to $225 billion by 2022,  and salmon aquaculture alone accounts for 70% of that total. However, two-thirds of the world’s fish stocks today are either fished at their limit or over-fished, according to to an analysis by the Bren School of Environmental Science and Earth Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Environmental Defense Fund. 

Each year 16 million metric tons of fish are caught solely to produce fish meal and fish oil, with 80% of the fish oil going directly to aquaculture feeds to give farmed fish the essential Omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids they need for health and growth. But as salmon demand has grown, many fish farmers have had to lower the amount of fish oil fed to aquaculture salmon because of the finite quantity of this natural resource, resulting in an overall decline in the Omega-3 levels in the flesh of the salmon sold to consumers, according to Veramaris, a joint venture between DSM and Evonik that produces algal oil from natural marine microalgae.

Yet one of the reasons people are eating more and more salmon is for the health benefits of its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. If the decade-long decline in Omega-3 in salmon can be corrected, it would help to “create and capture value in the food sector,” says Karim Kurmaly, CEO of Veramaris. With that in mind, Veramaris has developed an innovation that uses a natural marine algae to make an algal oil that can replace the fish oil derived from wild caught fish and still gives farmed fish the fatty acids they need for health and growth.

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