Saving seafood: Lab-grown microalgae could help sustain the world’s overfished oceans

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A commercial fish farm. Image: Ranko Maras/Shutterstock

Oceans once teeming with life are being whittled away. Larger, predatory fish – salmon and tuna included – are now estimated to be at less than 10% of their pre-industrial levels.

This disintegration of the ocean’s wildlife also corresponds with market demands for seafood, which have risen at an exponential rate since the early 1980s …. When these larger, predatory fish are raised in aquaculture (fish farms) they are often fed “forage fish”, including sardines and anchovies. These forage fish are harvested from the oceans (to the tune of millions of tons per year).

[T]he demand for seafood is rapidly growing (well over 50% of the world’s seafood is now supplied from fish farms), while the global catch of forage fish has stagnated. Worse still, forage fish …. sustain everything from seabirds to whales and dolphins, and their disappearance could have profound consequences for the oceanic ecosystem.

Related article:  'Synthetic biology doesn’t have to be scary': It could offer us new medicines, biofuels and everything in between

Netherlands-based Veramaris, a joint venture of DSM and Evonik, have tackled an important part of this problem. They use a strain of microalgae, originally discovered in the ocean, to produce the fish oils that salmon and tuna demand in a laboratory, without the need for forage fish.

Read full, original article: How Aquaculture Innovation Can Save Seafood

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