Enrico Bachis, market research director at IFFO, argued in an interview with IntraFish published Aug. 3, that marine ingredients -- fishmeal and fish oil -- cannot be fully replaced and that alternatives will only ever be used alongside marine ingredients.

But insisting that marine ingredients will always be required is a "business-as-usual" way of thinking that underestimates the potential for human innovation to solve our global food and aquatic feed problems. The reality is, fish require nutrients, not ingredients.

Just a few years ago, scientists thought it was impossible to grow a carnivorous fish without some fishmeal and fish oil. And, yet, last week Ocean Era in Hawaii announced the results of a feeding trial that successfully replaced all marine ingredients in feed for longfin yellowtail, also known as kampachi.

Marine ingredients have also been fully substituted for Pacific white shrimp and peer-reviewed studies are forthcoming demonstrating the same for California yellowtail, largemouth bass, pompano and red drum.

This research and the over 270 peer-reviewed studies published over the last few years confirm that it is entirely possible to substitute marine ingredients in a variety of species without sacrificing growth and survival.

Investment ramping up

In recent years there has been an explosion in the alternative-ingredients market with fermented soy, single-celled organisms and a variety of plant and animal byproducts, and large investment firms are taking notice.

Recently, the insect ingredient supplier Protix received backing from Rabobank to continue scaling up, and just opened the world’s largest insect factory.

Likewise, algal oil producer Veramaris recently received GRAS status in the United States and continues to increase production at its commercial facility in Nebraska.

While we agree that each ingredient should be independently assessed for sustainability, many already offer sustainable solutions as they upcycle waste and have a smaller carbon and land footprint.

To help feed our growing world population, the aquaculture sector needs more human ingenuity to propel it forward. Our latest challenge to the industry is to accelerate progress for the species most dependent on marine ingredients.

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Kevin Fitzsimmons is one of the leaders of the F3 Challenge effort to encourage the development of fishmeal and oil alternatives. The next challenge, the F3 Challenge - Carnivore Edition, is currently underway.

If you would like your thoughts considered for publication as a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed, email us at editorial@intrafish.com

Check out our newly released IntraFish Business Intelligence report 'Feed Alternatives: The Race to Replace.'Reach out for more information or to get a free sample at Intelligence@IntraFish.com.