Wesley Malcorps, PhD student on the EU H2020 GAIN project is celebrating his first journal publication on “The Sustainability Conundrum of Fishmeal Substitution by Plant Ingredients in Shrimp Feeds”, which involved extensive collaboration between experts from many disciplines, universities and organisations in the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Mexico, USA and Australia.
The shrimp industry is one of the dominant consumers of fishmeal in the aquaculture sector. To meet demand for a growing industry in the face of a finite supply of marine ingredients, feed manufacturers have decreased the inclusion of fishmeal in commercial diets. Mainly driven by economic incentives, aquafeed is shifting towards crop-based ingredients. Some consider this a sustainable transition, as it reduces the dependency on finite marine resource. However, a shift in ingredients could affect the nutritional value of shrimp and would shift resource demand from the oceans onto the land.
The study clearly demonstrated that complete fishmeal substitution by plant ingredients could lead to an increasing demand for freshwater (up to 63%), land (up to 81%), and phosphorus (up to 83%). These are significant increases, as only a share of 20–30% of the feed is actually substituted. This is mainly caused by the inclusion of resource intensive crops and their derived ingredients to meet nutritional requirements, such as soybean meal concentrate, rapeseed meal concentrate and pea protein concentrate. While aquafeed consumes approximately 4% of the global feed crops and therefore consumes a small share of the agricultural resources (such as water and land), a shift from fishmeal to plant ingredients should not be taken for granted as a sustainable solution to meeting a rapidly expanding (shrimp) aquaculture industry. The additional pressure on crucial terrestrial resources inflicted by the rapidly growing aquaculture sector may become more obvious over the next decades.
Although fishmeal can be used more strategically in various aquafeed formulations there is a need for more innovation to optimize its value in relation to alternative ingredients. Strategic management and utilization of fish by-products shows potential for higher resource use efficiency of valuable marine resources. Additionally, improvement of feed conversion ratios, side streams up to 30–40% of the global food system, and novel protein sources might allow acceptable solutions to supplement high quality fishmeal. This would enable the shrimp farming industry to operate and contribute in a sustainable manner to global food security and the economy, providing the much needed high nutritionally valuable seafood.
Malcorps, W.; Kok, B.; van‘t Land, M.; Fritz, M.; van Doren, D.; Servin, K.; van der Heijden, P.; Palmer, R.; Auchterlonie, N.A.; Rietkerk, M.; Santos, M.J.; Davies, S.J. The Sustainability Conundrum of Fishmeal Substitution by Plant Ingredients in Shrimp Feeds. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1212. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041212