One way of raising the sustainability of fish feeds is to reduce the content of the marine raw materials fishmeal and fish oil. This is being achieved through the use of vegetable alternatives. However that can also reduce the amount of the marine fatty acids EPA and DHA in the diet of the fish. These fatty acids are responsible for some key health benefits of fish for the consumer. The four-year project, starting January 2012, will identify ways of maximising the retention by the fish of the marine fatty acids that are present in these diets.
Researcher Ingunn Stubhaug explains, “We will explore ways of producing fish on diets that, across the full growth phase, have a lower content of marine oils. This can be achieved by identifying suitable antioxidants to protect the highly unsaturated fatty acids from oxidation, and optimising their inclusion levels. Another approach is to phase the levels of marine oils in the feed across the growth stage, without compromising the health and welfare of the fish. We will also explore the influence of water temperature and the molecular structures of the triglycerides holding the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish flesh.”
The EU project, known as Omega3max, is an industry–academia partnership led by the University of Madrid, Spain. Other partners are the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, and Lucta, a Spanish company specialising in antioxidants. Skretting ARC will formulate the feeds for the trials, which will be conducted at the Skretting ARC Lerang Research Station. As a Marie Curie Actions project, wider objectives include support for the training and career development of researchers. Researchers from the universities will work at Skretting ARC during the trials and Skretting researchers will take part in activities at the universities.