Krill: The ocean’s answer to sustainability
by Rebecca Sherratt, Features Editor, International Aquafeed
Known for their innovative work with Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), Norwegian feed Ingredient company Aker BioMarine are pioneering the way forward for sustainable, efficient and resourceful feed for all types of marine creatures. Their solution? QRILL Aqua.
The QRILL Aqua family of products are exclusively made up from Antarctic krill, harvested from the Southern Oceans. In 2018 alone, Aker BioMarine contributed to 325 million extra servings of seafood with their innovative QRILL Aqua line.
Recent statistics suggest that only three percent of the population has sufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a resource which also isn't easy to attain with concerns over the sustainability of fishing being highlighted more and more. Krill is a species here to fix that, rich in omega-3s and a sustainable solution to the world's protein needs.
What makes krill so special?
As more research is undertaken about krill benefits, it is becoming more and more recognised as the wonder ingredient of the sea. Krill boasts a huge variety of benefits and it is clear to see why Aker BioMarine have invested so much in this wonderful species.
High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids(as well as omega-6 fatty acids) krill is a pelagic crustacean with a biomass on earth of approximately 500 million tonnes, making it one of the most populated species on the earth. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has restricted harvesting of Antarctic krill to one specific region in the Southern Ocean, and annual krill harvests cannot exceed one percent of their total biomass in this particular area, but this still enables companies to harvest more than enough krill to supply feed to all forms of life, whilst also ensuring that krill as a species remains in bountiful quantities and safely maintained.
Aker BioMarine ensure to take sustainability very seriously, being the first krill fishery in history to receive the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)'s certification in 2010 and 2015, each certification lasting five years. The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, who also analyse fisheries for the sustainability of their fishmeal and fish oil, has for five years in a row granted their Atlantic fishery an 'A-rating'.
Krill feed provides a great deal of direct benefits to fish and shrimp that makes it very attractive as a feed solution. Krill feed is proven to improve growth and yield in both fish and shrimp, thanks to its digestible peptides and omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids. Various studies have also been carried out which show evidence to support krill feed reducing mortality rates and improving heart health in salmon.
Another valuable feature of krill is that they contain the antioxidant astaxanthin, which has anti-inflammatory properties, counteracting oxidative stress and preventing damage to DNA, lipids and proteins. In addition, astaxanthin provides the pigmentation Choline is also contained in krill which is crucial for digestive functions, heart, liver and one's cognitive health.
Designed for fish and shrimp, QRILL Aqua is Aker BioMarine's iconic range of ingredients consisting primarily of krill. All the benefits mentioned above are transferred directly to the fish upon consumption of QRILL Aqua, and most omega-3s in the feed go directly to the end consumer, ensuring both healthy fish and healthy humans.
QRILL Aqua is made up from ground whole Antarctic krill, which is cooked and dried into a brown-orange powder containing approximately 60 percent protein, along with a balanced amino acid profile. The final composition also includes six percent water, 11 percent ash and roughly 25 percent fat, which consists of those helpful phospholipids (40%), omega-3 fatty acids (20%), EPAs (10%), DHAs (5.5%) and omega-6 fatty acids (2%).
Aker BioMarine has a strong research focus and has conducted several studies on the effects of QRILL Aqua on both fish and shrimp, resulting in some very positive feedback. In their trials of QRILL Aqua on fish, they discovered a variety of results:
- In European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) juveniles, liver cells of krill meal fed fish presented lower vacuolization levels and in general, lower signs of fat accumulation.
- Gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata) juveniles fed nine percent krill meal had a reduction in the accumulation of lipid droplets in their hepatocytes and around the pancreatic islets
- In Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) juveniles, a growth rate increase of 32 percent was achieved through feeding them 1.5 percent dietary krill meal, compared to the control group
- Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) postsmolts fed krill meal grew on average 174 g more during the pre-harvest phase and four-to-five percent more fillet yield was achieved upon harvestOlive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus) juveniles fed a nine percent krill meal diet showed a higher survival against bacterial infection with Edwardsiella tarda.
A variety of tests were also conducted on shrimp fed with QRILL Aqua, with similarly positive results:
- A diet with 3 percent krill meal was the most effective in increasing shrimp final body weight and yield in L. vannamei when compared to other marine feed attractants.Compared to one percent dietary krill meal inclusion, yield was increased by 17.6 percent when Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) were fed two percent krill meal
- Replacing parts of fish meal with krill meal in shrimp diets resulted in seven percent savings in grower feed
- Pacific white shrimp also displayed increased tail pigmentation when fed astaxanthin krill oil.
Innovating for the future
Although Aker BioMarine is undoubtedly doing very well for themselves and proving to be great experts in the field of krill feed, they want to continue to innovate and learn more about how to further improve their products. To further this goal, Aker BioMarine established the Open Innovation Programme, a chance to team up with Aker BioMarine's skilled team of scientists to further study and develop the future of krill feed and sustainability.
The company welcomes with open arms people who think they have some great insight into new topics and ideas to explore and research and offer the brilliant opportunity to research, develop and commercialise new solutions for the industry.
This unique opportunity will no doubt help discover even more about this unique species and showcases Aker BioMarine's dedication to a sustainable solution for the aqua feed industry.