Smart farming

Background

Sustainable salmon feed

A collaborative project in the UK is aiming to deliver an alternative feed solution to Atlantic farmed salmon which may help relieve pressure on stressed marine resources.
Photo: Richard Semik
Photo: Richard Semik

The project will serve as both a proof of concept and a potential solution to the sustainability issue in supplying fish oils to farmed fish. Trials taking place in Scotland have been using oils from a genetically modified (GM) oilseed crop plant named Camelina. Plant scientist, Professor Johnathan Napier from Rothamsted Research, has long been exploring how to develop a sustainable source of omega-3 using transgenic plants. “It’s taken a decade to develop plants able to produce the oils and be used in aquaculture,” said Professor Napier. The modified Camelina has high-levels of the beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, proving to be a safe and cost-effective source of these for aquaculture feeds. “A portion of farmed salmon today has about half the level of the Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, compared to ten years ago,” advises fellow researcher, fish nutritionist, Professor Douglas Tocher from Stirling University. This research aims to return levels of omega-3 fatty oils in farmed fish to the levels of a decade ago. “This GM technology shows great promise as a solution to help fish farming remain even more sustainable while continuing to grow as an industry,” concludes Napier.

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