With the global supply of forage fish at a plateau, fed aquaculture must continue to reduce dependence on fishmeal and oil in feeds to ensure sustainable sector growth. The use of novel aquaculture feed ingredients is growing, but their contributions to scalable and sustainable aquafeed solutions are unclear. Here, we show that global adoption of novel aquafeeds could substantially reduce aquaculture’s forage fish demand by 2030, maintaining feed efficiencies and omega-3 fatty acid profiles. We combine production data, scenario modelling and a decade of experimental data on forage fish replacement using microalgae, macroalgae, bacteria, yeast and insects to illustrate how reducing future fish oil demand, particularly in high-value species such as salmonids, will be key for the sustainability of fed aquaculture. However, considerable uncertainties remain surrounding novel feed efficacy across different life-cycle stages and taxa, and various social, environmental, economic and regulatory challenges will dictate their widespread use. Yet, we demonstrate how even limited adoption of novel feeds could aid sustainable aquaculture growth, which will become increasingly important for food security.
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Aquaculture production data are publicly available and were accessed through FishStatJ55. All data products used for analyses in this study are publicly available through a GitHub repository (https://github.com/cottrellr/alternativefeeds). All data that support this study are available from the corresponding author on request.
All custom code produced during the analyses were generated using R statistical software version 3.4.3 and are publicly available through a GitHub repository (https://github.com/cottrellr/alternativefeeds).
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The authors acknowledge funding and intellectual support from the Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania and the Food System Impacts and Sustainability Working Group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. R.S.C. acknowledges funding from the CSIRO–UTAS Quantitative Marine Science Program and Australian Training Program. H.E.F. and B.S.H. acknowledge funding from the Zegar Family Foundation and, on behalf of M.M., the IAEA is grateful to the Government of the Principality of Monaco for the support provided to its Environment Laboratories.
H.E.F. is a scientific advisor on the Aquaculture Stewardship Council Technical Advisory Group.
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Cottrell, R.S., Blanchard, J.L., Halpern, B.S. et al. Global adoption of novel aquaculture feeds could substantially reduce forage fish demand by 2030. Nat Food 1, 301–308 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-020-0078-x