Innovation in aquaculture is essential to future food security
by Runa Haug Khoury, Director Sustainability, Aker BioMarine
The world's population is growing, which means we're going to need more food. In fact, the World Resource Institute says we are going to need about 70 percent more food that we do today. But how can we meet this demand and not destroy the Earth in doing so? One important answer to this lies in the sea.
Land-based food production is a significant source of carbon emissions, which means that increasing the amount of food produced on land will have detrimental effects on our planet. In addition, the 2019 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that even if we find a way to innovate and reduce emissions, the land-based food system simply cannot support the future demand.
Seafood is an essential ingredient in our food future
The time has come to make a substantial shift towards the sea for our harvested food, chipping away at the 98 percent stronghold of land harvested food. Fish and seafood can not only feed us, they can also deliver essential nutrients required for a healthy diet, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as A, B12 and D.
The potential for food harvesting from the sea is immense. The High-Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy tells us that the ocean could potentially supply six times more food than it does today. That could equate more than two-thirds of the edible meat that will be needed to feed our future population, but without the hefty carbon footprint that harvesting meat leaves behind.
The lower carbon footprint stemming from the harvesting of ocean species is due, in part, to the composition of the aquaculture feed they consume. As farmed ocean food becomes increasingly critical to our future food security, it becomes just as essential to ensure the diets of the shrimp, salmon, seabass and other species is just as sustainable.
Aquaculture feed innovation is essential for our food security
The feed that our food eats is important, not only for its sustainability but also in terms of its capacity. And there may not be one, magic source of nourishment to be able to supply the feed, but rather an array of different solutions may be the answer. The High-Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy encourages the aquaculture industry to seek out under- and un-exploited fishery resources as one possible source for future feed formulas. It's time to go to the bottom of the food chain for some answers. This is where we find krill.
Krill is almost as low as you can go in the food chain. It's abundant in supply and possesses a wealth of nutrients unmatched by other fish feed sources. But despite its bountiful supply, particularly in Antarctica's Southern Ocean region, precautions still must be taken when it comes to harvesting krill.
Aker BioMarine has been harvesting krill since 2006, and has invested significant time, energy and resources to advancing its harvesting practices, both in terms of sustainability as well as technology. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) sets the catch limit of the Antarctic krill fishery to just one percent of the local biomass. As a company, Aker BioMarine has been recognised by several bodies for its responsible practices.
So, it's plentiful. And it's sustainable. But does krill tick off all the boxes when it comes to nourishing our future seafood supply?
This is the question that Aker BioMarine has asked its bevy of skilled marine scientists, in cooperation with renowned research institutes, to answer. The company continuously conducts studies investigating the effects of krill on the diets of multiple species, looking at growth, survival, disease resistance and other important factors for farmed ocean species. The studies are gradually building a broad consensus that krill (when blended into the feed formula) is key to stimulating growth and quality, reducing waste and overall contributing to a more efficient feed.
Our future food security requires that we re-balance the food that we eat, shifting from a diet harvested from land to a diet consisting of more food harvested from the sea. To grow this future food source from the two percent that it is today, we must work across the aquaculture industry to stimulate innovation and new solutions, especially when it comes to the aquaculture feed. Krill stands out as a unique feed ingredient that can change the game when it comes to feeding our essential ocean species. It packs the right nutritional punch, all the while being a sustainably sourced resource. It's primed to play a key role in making the aquaculture future a bit brighter…and healthier.