How can we provide enough protein for the expected 9.3 billion people in 2050? Animal agriculture requires arable land and fresh water, both of which are in short supply. Increased fishing doesn’t seem to be a viable option as wild fish populations are already plummeting. Can aquaculture help to fill the gap?
Aquaculture is growing at 7.5% per year. As production increases it will become ever more important to reduce or eliminate wild fish as a feed source. Progress has been made in recent decades. It was once common practice to feed whole sardines to aquaculture stocks. In many places this practice has been replaced with feeding formulated, aquaculture feed that is made up of fishmeal, soybean meal and other ingredients. Soybeans, and many other commodity crops are in short supply already, and they require a lot of land and water. If aquaculture is to lessen the pressure on land and water use then we need to minimize the amount of agricultural products that go into fish feed.
Perhaps we need to look a little lower on the food chain than sardines and anchovies for fish food. Algae are a source of DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid that makes fish such a healthy food. Algae are already being produced as a source of DHA supplements for infant formula, milk and juice. Algae may help the aquaculture industry find true sustainability.