Aquaculture Breakthrough in Shrimp Farming

Aquaculture Breakthrough in Shrimp Farming

The black tiger prawn, Penaeus monodon, is a marine crustacean widely reared for food in Asia and is often the one that ends up on your restaurant plate.

Image of a Black Tiger Shrimp on a persons hand

Black Tiger Prawn

At approximately 36 centimetres in length and weighing up to 650 grams this is the world’s largest species of prawn. P. monodon is also the most widely cultured prawn species in the world, although it is gradually losing ground to the whiteleg shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei. Over 900,000 tonnes are consumed annually, worth about $US 5 billion, two thirds of which is farmed. Frozen head-on, head-off, and peeled shrimp used to be the major export products to the main markets in the USA, EU and Japan. In financial value, Penaeus monodon is the most important traded aquaculture commodity in Asia.

Disease Issues

Being the case with every type of monoculture, major disease problems are always a threat, either from viral Whitespote Disease (WSD) and Yellowhead Disease (YHV) or bacterial Vibrio campbellii .

No chemicals or drugs are yet available to treat such viral infections. Nevertheless, through good management of pond, water and feed, together with close monitoring of the health status of stock inputs, the impact of disease can be greatly reduced.

Outbreaks of the most serious virus disease nearly always occur following dramatic changes in parameters such as water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and water hardness. In some cases, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals have been used to treat these viruses but their usage comes with a high price and with little success.


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Ocean Harvest Technology Produce

Oceanfeed™-shrimp is the first marine natural and sustainable functional feed ingredient derived from macroalgae. Unique blending and processing guarantees that all bioactive ingredients are present in the final end product and can replace the  mineral and vitamin premix. A number of reports in the literature have shown some degree of success in improving the clinical outcome of shrimp in viral and bacterial challenges by administering immunostimulants and algal extracts.*

When supplemented to the diet, fucoidan – a seaweed component -partially protected shrimp from White Spot Syndrom Virus (WSSV) infection **. Oceanfeed™- shrimp contains a plethora of natural bioactive compounds which, when incorporated into the diet, can modulate several functions and assist in the control of chronic diseases and viral infections in farmed shrimp. It also allows for diseasefree farmed shrimp to be reared in a more natural and sustainable way, thus easing concerns about environmental impact and sustainability.

Trial Results

OHT recently finalised trials using Penaeus monodon with the objective of researching the effects of Oceanfeed™-shrimp on growth, FCR, and viral and bacterial diseases. Tests were also done to assess the improvement of the clinical outcome of

 shrimp challenged with WSSV and Vibrio after feeding on a diet supplemented with Oceanfeed™-Shrimp. Growth tests were performed by CreveTec- AFT Research Center in biofloc recirculation systems. Challenge tests were performed by the Shrimp Research Group of the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Four different diets (with identical protein and lipid levels) were tested, incorporating 5 and 10% inclusions of Oceanfeed™- Shrimp and two diets with yeast included. Results after the two-month trials showed that inclusion of 10% of Oceanfeed™-shrimp (OF10-shrimp) without the addition of yeast was the best diet of the four tested diets and was able to replace the mineral vitamin premix. Moreover, shrimp fed with 10% inclusion of OF-shrimp were 2.8% heavier than reference shrimp fed with the standard reference diet at the end of the trial. This would translate into a 2.8 tonne increased yield per 100 tonnes of shrimp. The Feed Conversion Ratio (corrected for mortalities) was 0.08 better with 10% inclusion of OF-shrimp. This is 8 tonnes of feed per 100 tonnes of shrimp that would be saved. Mortalities also improved on the OF10 feed by 1.67%. This is 1.67 tonnes shrimp per 100 tonnes. There was a strong effect in the OF10 diet when challenged with Whitespot Viral Disease and the bacterial disease Vibrio with a 40% and 20% lower mortality respectively compared to the control diet.

At the end of the trial, non-challenged shrimp were tasted by a large UK seafood retailer. The trials showed that OF10 shrimp were significantly better in taste and texture than reference diet shrimp.

Global Issues

In 1810 the world population was approximately 1 billion; today, the figure is upwards of 7 billion, and by 2050 it is expected to top 9 billion. Food is therefore going to be incredibly important!

Currently food production is primarily land-based, despite the fact that 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans. That leaves roughly 26% of the earth to support human life, animal life, vegetative life and agricultural production. It is estimated that less than 3% of the earth’s surface is being utilised as arable land. The green revolution has made 3% of the planet incredibly productive. But can it grow? Even more importantly, is it sustainable? The platform (food production) may not be burning, yet, but it is getting quite crowded. What if 10% of the ocean could be used to grow seafood? Shrimp farming will no doubt form a large part of this seafood production.

We are at the cross roads of a blue revolution, and Ocean Harvest Technology has developed feed ingredients from macroalgae to help develop this in a more sustainable way and to lessen the need and dependency on chemicals and additives. A perfect example is the effects of Oceanfeed™-shrimp in shrimp farming.

*(Itami et al., 1998; Takahashi et al., 2000; Chang et al., 2003)

** (Chotigeat et al., 2004)

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Tide must turn to use potential of seaweed

An estimated 100,000 ton of seaweed washes up daily on the Irish coastline, but only a fraction of this resource is currently being exploited for its potential as a foodstuff, and the raw material for medical, cosmetic and other uses.

Countries such as Norway, France and Spain are decades ahead of us when it comes to the commercial harvesting of seaweed, and IFA aquaculture secretary Richie Flynn believes exploiting our seaweed resources needs to be part of any government vision for the overall seafood industry.

“There is huge potential for public-private investment on the seaweed side,” says Mr Flynn.

“Apart from the food industry, the research proves there’s a multitude of potential uses for seaweed in the medical and synthetics In the ocean, some seaweed stands proudly up from the Ocean floorindustries.

“It’s a really exciting area for new development, if only the relevant government authorities would allow our SMEs [small and medium enterprises] to fully research and develop the scope of the product that is out there.

“This is a sustainable and renewable resource, and 100,000t of it washes up on our shores every day.

“It’s a no-brainer that developing this resource should be a priority for the so-called ‘smart economy’.”

One company that is taking a lead in the hi-tech application of Ireland’s seaweed resources is Ocean Harvest Technology, based in Tuam.

After seven years of research, Ocean Harvest is ready to start commercial production of a new salmon-feed ingredient, which some experts believe could help revolutionise the €6bn global salmon-farming industry.

It’s an industry that has been dogged by environmental, animal welfare and food safety concerns, but some of these issues could be addressed by Ocean Harvest’s organic OceanFeed salmon-feed ingredient, which is made from a mix of seaweeds — 40pc of which is sourced in Irish waters.

OceanFeed replaces the synthetic chemical additives and colourants currently used in salmon fish feed and has been shown to improve the health of the environment in which the fish are reared.

Test results have also confirmed that fish eating OceanFeed have increased resistance to sea-lice infestation, one of the big environmental problems in salmon farming.

“As an industry, salmon farming has taken significant criticism in terms of environmental impact,” says Patrick Martin, an Irish seafood expert, who co-founded Ocean Harvest along with Dr Stefan Kraan, an internationally recognised authority on seaweed and former head of the Irish Seaweed Centre at NUI Galway.

“The long-term importance and value of aquaculture means that sustainable solutions have to be found and we believe OceanFeed will be a key ingredient in making the industry more environmentally as well as financially sustainable.”

EWOS, one of the main suppliers of feed for the global salmon farming industry, assisted Ocean Harvest on the technical side of manufacturing its OceanFeed product, and Dr Kraan says the industry response has been very positive. “It’s a slow process, but there are contracts in place, and the big retail players [such as] Tesco and Sainsbury’s are interested,” he said.

The Ocean Harvest Technology LogoOcean Harvest’s salmon feed ingredient was developed after several years of research into the commercial application of seaweed.

Dr Kraan believes it’s just one example of the type of product that could be developed from the seaweed species in Irish waters.

“We could build a whole industry around seaweed,” he said.

“The Norwegians have been at it for the last 50 years. Harvesting seaweed is like cutting your lawn — it always grows back. Apart from the food industry, there are many other applications in the medical, alginates and cosmetics areas, and seaweed could also be a key ingredient in the production of bioethanol.

“There are 625 species of seaweed around the Irish coastline, so Ireland should be heaven on Earth for seaweed researchers and entrepreneurs.”

– Ronnie Belle

Dr Krann inspecting seaweed

Seaweeds: the answer for the future of global aquaculture feed?

Seaweeds: the answer for the future of global aquaculture feed?

The ever-growing global aquaculture industry currently produces about 50% of all seafood consumed of which 6% represents marine fish farming. Coupled to a steadily rising world population just reaching over 7 billion this year going to 9 billion in 2050 we are heading for some huge problems in respect of feed production in order to sustain and indeed increase aquaculture production. Image of Seaweed on a White backgroundFish meal, a commodity becoming more and more in short supply is becoming rather expensive as a protein source to feed farmed fish and an urgent need for alternative resources other than plant protein sources derived from food crops is needed. Seaweeds with protein values ranging from 10% for certain brown and green algae up to 40% in certain types of red algae might very well be a part of the answer.

With rapidly increasing interest for micro and macroalgae (seaweeds) as a novel feedstock for biofuels and novel platform chemicals for other industries such as the plastic Industry there might be a by-product that is of great interest for the fed aquaculture industry, i.e., protein. This by-product alone would justify the development of a vibrant algae cultivation industry. Besides, algae can contribute other interesting bioactive molecules to the table that could be applied in fed aquaculture to replace certain chemical ingredients such as colorants, preservatives and pre-mixes. One Irish company, Ocean Harvest Technology, based in Milltown has already advanced this concept and trialled different seaweed formula’s on salmon with considerable success resulting in lower FCR’s, higher weight gain and a strong reduction in sea lice.  The final end product (fresh and smoked salmon) has been exhaustively taste -tested by independent panels, retailers, consumers and Michelin Chefs and  received high acceptance for taste and texture, while reducing the environmental impact and increasing the sustainability of the fish. These seaweed fed salmon are currently produced in Canada. With these results in hand the Ocean Harvest Technology team recently finished shrimp trials with similar results and success and also have begun pig trials with an Irish pig research farm. In comparison the salmon feed industry globally produced close in the region of 2.8 million tonnes of feed, the global pig feed industry produces around 128 million tonnes of feed.

However, the focus has shifted and is more and more fixed on alternative protein resources. The Irish company Oceanfuel Ltd has developed a protein extraction process in order to concentrate the carbohydrates. The process is scalable and protein forms basically a by-product in order to produce a carbohydrate slurry for the biofuels industry. Analysis of the amino acid profiles of the protein fraction shows very comparable or better profiles compared to fish meal, with the advantage that seaweed protein is about 90% of the extracted product while fishmeal contains about 60-70% protein. By using seaweeds and seaweed proteins it will help reduce the pressure and reliance on wild fish stock and some other traditional ingredients and will soon play an important role in the feed and food production.

In contrast to microalgae seaweed have been cultivated in large quantities for hundreds of years, mainly in Asia and other tropical areas. This has been done largely for food production although over the last 60 years also to develop the phycolloid industry to produce alginates, carrageenans and agars which are widely used in the food industries as thickeners, binders and stabilizers. According to the latest figures of the FAO about 15.5 million tonnes of seaweeds were cultivated globally (worth about $US 6.5 billion) of which 98% takes place in Asia. Around 10% of the total cultivation is used for the phycolloid industry. Therefore the concept of cultivating seaweeds is not new, but to apply the concept to the western world will be difficult as there is little knowledge and understanding of seaweeds. In contrast, in Japan it is part of the staple diet, with an average of 7-10 grams consumed per day.

Nevertheless with the increasing interest in biofuels and statements by Governments to reduce CO2 levels to 1990 levels while promising that 20% of all EU transport fuels have to come from sustainable biofuels by 2020 will further increase the interest of growing seaweeds for a wide variety of purposes. As labour is horrendously expensive in this part of the world it means that the whole process from seed to harvesting has to be mechanised as much as possible. This will be the ultimate challenge for the next 10 years if we want to make seaweeds an accepted mainstream product being it for fuel, food or other ingredients.

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Salmon Feed Breakthrough for Ocean Harvest Technology

Salmon Feed Breakthrough for Ocean Harvest Technology

Ocean Harvest Technology, based in Galway on the Atlantic coast of Ireland is about to start commercial production of a new salmon feed ingredient that could revolutionise the €6 Billion global salmon farming industry.

The Ocean Harvest Technology Logo

The industry has been beset by concerns over environmental impact, animal welfare and food safety concerns but all of those issues will be addressed by OceanFeed™, a wholly sustainable, seaweed-based salmon feed ingredient that not only replaces all synthetic chemical additives and colorants currently used in salmon fish feed – but also has been shown to significantly improve the health environment in which the fish are reared.

OceanFeed™ is a macro algae-based ingredient which is 100 per cent natural and wholly sustainable within the ocean environment.

Recently completed European sea trials with EWOS in Scotland have shown that the thousands of fish used in the trial have been healthier and displayed better weight gain, taste and appearance results when compared to fish fed on the current market leading feed.

Astaxanthin levels in fish fed on the OceanFeed diet were only 20 per cent of those in the control diet fed fish while OceanFeed™contained higher levels of natural pigments, notably Lutein, and of Omega 3 PUFA’s.

The feed ingredients are designed to reduce stress, enhance the immune system and minimize autoimmune problems, At the same time, the fish eating OceanFeed™ have significantly improved flesh quality and flavour — the ‘taste of the sea’ compared to a control test group.

The feed reduces many of the environmental issues associated with current aquaculture practices. Many of these have related to the use of synthetic, petroleum-based additives that represent about 20 per cent of the cost and 15 per cent of the weight of farmed salmon fish feed.

The market for additives used in the manufacture of salmon feed was worth more than US$615 million in 2007.

OceanFeed™ is the first commercial product to emerge from several years’ worth of research and development into the application of macro-algae and seaweed based products conducted by the team at Ocean Harvest Technology.

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When pigs will swim?

When pigs will swim?

The world population is ever increasing and so is pork consumption . During the last 40 years, global pork production increased with a factor 4 from 24.7 million ton in 1961 to 100.6 million ton in 2009 (FAO, 2011). However, as usual the case with intensive farming many disease-associated problems start to develop, resulting into increased chemical and antibiotic use in the industry. Bioactives in seaweeds might be one of the answers to make the industry more sustainable and chemical free, making pigs more of a marine mammal!

Image of two pigs

Link to OceanFeed Swine product information

 Disease and antibiotic use

Intensive pig farming is susceptible to many diseases amongst them several bacterial diseases and parasitic worms. In human medicine, antibiotic use is generally confined to treatment of illness. In contrast, antibiotics and other antimicrobials often are routinely given to food animals in order to grow animals faster and to compensate for unsanitary conditions on many industrial farms. Bacteria exposed to antibiotics at low doses for prolonged periods can develop antibiotic-resistance—a dangerous trait enabling bacteria to survive and grow instead of being inhibited or destroyed by therapeutic doses of a drug. Since many of the classes of antibiotics used in food animal production also are important in human medicine, resistance that begins on the farm can lead to a serious public health problem.  This has already happened in the border area between The Netherlands and Germany where pigs with a type of MRSA have developed 100% resistance to tetracyclines (an antibiotic) and has jumped from pigs to humans with the resulting consequences that there is no antibiotic treatment available. The same has happened in Britain with Clostridium difficile.

Recognizing the potential for a health crisis, Denmark stopped the administration of antibiotics used for growth promotion (i.e., non-medical uses). Today in Denmark, all uses of antibiotics in food animals must be accompanied by a prescription in a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, and veterinarians cannot profit from the sale of antibiotics. In addition, farmers, veterinarians and pharmacies must report the use and sale of antibiotics, and farm inspections are conducted regularly. The Danish government and industry data show that livestock and poultry production has increased since the ban, while antibiotic resistance has declined on farms and in meat. There are real concerns that unless antibiotics are used much more sparingly we will soon find ourselves facing a range of serious diseases in humans and animals that can no longer be treated effectively.

 Natural alternatives

With several countries now banning or voluntary reducing the antibiotic use an urgent need has arisen to use alternative and sustainable feed ingredients and antibiotic replacements. The recent food scares in the swine industry in 2008 (Ireland) and 2011 (Germany) showing pork with unacceptable high levels of PCB’s and dioxins and other bio-accumulative contaminants, demanded further action to be taken to reduce contaminant levels in feed. Moreover, there has been a strongly growing demand for organic farmed products in many countries, insisting that pigs have to be organically fed and reared. In this respect seaweeds have received limited attention; nevertheless several studies have demonstrated that seaweeds can be used as partial replacement for many ingredients in animal feeds, such as, vitamin & mineral mixes, binders, antibiotics, and antioxidants. Several studies have shown that addition of single seaweed species can reduce certain enterobacteria, improve pig gut health and increase iodine in meat. Furthermore they have an antibacterial effect and prebiotic effect and help reducing scouring/ Diarrhoea and Ammonia reduction.

Certain bioactive molecules from seaweed like laminarin and fucoidan have a pronounced anti-microbial action, similar to in-feed antibiotics in piglets. This is beneficial from a performance perspective, as a lower microbial load will result in a lower energy cost to the pig. Also, the removal of harmful bacteria like E. coli helps control disease rates in piglets.

 Ocean Harvest Technology

The Ocean Harvest Technology LogoTo tackle current problems Ocean Harvest Technology has developed and specific macroalgae mix for the swine industry. Oceanfeed™- swine contains a plethora of natural bioactive compounds which by incorporating in the diet can modulate several functions in the pig and assist in the control of chronic diseases and infections found in the pig industry. It allows for disease-free farmed pigs to be reared in a more natural and sustainable way, easing concerns on environmental impact and sustainability. Oceanfeed™-swine is the first marine natural and sustainable functional feed ingredient derived from macroalgae. Nutrition plays a key role in the efficient production of pork, and accounts for more than 70% of the cost of production. Nutrition is constantly evolving in order to ensure we cost effectively supply the feeds to produce high quality pork.

Earlier this year Ocean Harvest Technology in conjunction with Sharragh pigfarms conducted feeding trials with 240 pigs and Oceanfeed-swine at different percentages of inclusion (0.5%, 2% and 5%) and compared the results against an industry reference diet. During and at the end of the trial 16 pigs were slaughtered and processed at the Dawn Pork and Bacon factory in Waterford. Intestinal samples were taken and meat samples were obtained after the pigs were processed by a local butcher (Jarlath Kelly, Tuam) and send to University College Cork for taste analysis and packaging trials. After 4 months of trial from weaning stage to 100 kg pigs the results showed a positive outcome in several ways.

The following results have been obtained:

  1. Higher weight gain, leaner meat and lower food conversion efficiency when pigs were supplemented with 0.5% Oceanfeed-Swine
  1. Significantly improved flavor, juiciness and overall consumer acceptability of the meat at 5% inclusion of Oceanfeed-Swine
  2. Improved observed health and alertness of animals at trial site

There are still some results to be analyzed on gut flora and gut development but the results so far are very encouraging for full commercialization of Oceanfeed-Swine. This strongly indicates that seaweeds could play an important role in intensive swine farming in Ireland and the EU.

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Seaweed and the aquaculture Industry; feed it or grow it!

Seaweed and the aquaculture Industry; feed it or grow it!

Anecdotal observations over many years have suggested that seaweeds are an important nutritional resource for terrestrial and aquatic species. Sheep are known to graze regularly on seaweed if they have coastal access. Cod have been observed grazing on seaweed immediately before breeding, while single species of seaweed have demonstrated a significant improvement in disease resistance when included in diets for farmed shrimp. Over the last 10 years the fed aquaculture industry has been bombarded by concerns over environmental impact, animal welfare, sustainability and food safety concerns.

Image of Ocean Harvest Technology Products

Ocean Harvest Technology Produce

Seaweeds have been used historically as a feed supplement, but only as single species of seaweed. Benefits from use of seaweed as feed supplements are well documented in many research publications. Different species of seaweed contain many different bioactive molecules. These bioactive ingredients are:

  • Lectins, phycobiliproteins, peptides and functional amino acids such as laminine and hydroxyproline
  • Fucoidan, laminarin, alginic acid, mannitol, carageenan, agars and other short chain oligosaccharides
  • Antioxidants, phenolic compounds and pigments
  • Sterols
  • Fatty Acids
  • Iodine
  • Bromophenols

Scientific evidence of the last decade has shown that these ingredients have antibiotic, antiviral, antimicrobial, mitogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-adhesion, ACE-inhibitory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and antithrombotic effects with immune-modulation and cytomodulatory effects.

In addition to these ‘bioactive’ molecules seaweeds are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and the right blend of seaweeds can replace most or all of the ‘synthetic’ sources of these ingredients that are used in aquatic and animal feeds.

The Ocean Harvest Technology LogoWith this in mind Ocean Harvest Technology Ltd, an Irish company operating out of Milltown, saw an opportunity and formulated and tested a seaweed-based ingredient, OceanfeedTM that addresses the issues of sustainability and the use of ‘chemical’ ingredients that gives significantly improved performance in growth rate, feed conversion ratio, mortalities, disease and lice resistance and finally flavour and texture of Salmon and shrimp. Many of these synthetic additives such as colorants, antibiotics and preservatives end up in the farmed salmon and have led to recent health scares. An urgent need has arisen for cost-effective alternative and sustainable organic and natural fish feed ingredients and Oceanfeed™ can be part of the solution.

Trial results   

Exhaustive trials were run at the Trial Feed Unit owned and operated by Marine Harvest on the Scottish west coast. The feeds, both reference and test, were manufactured by EWOS (UK) Ltd.  The fish were mixed sex Atlantic Salmon smolts with a starting weight of 145 gms and fish were fed to satiation, light regime followed natural photoperiod and water temperature was ambient. All trials were run in triplicate and the cages were inspected daily. All other physical parameters were measured on a daily basis, and mortalities were recorded on a daily basis. Fish were sampled and assessed against standard farming KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). Evaluation included growth rate, feed conversion ratio (FCR), condition factor, yield, fat analysis, lice counts, pigmentation, lipid content and profile, flesh flavour and flesh texture. Samples of whole guts were taken for microbiological evaluation and samples of lower intestine were taken (being immediately fixed in buffered formalin) for histological examination. Scottish Quality Cuts (SQC’s) of flesh were taken for lipid analysis, lipid profile, protein analysis and pigment analysis.


The trial was run for over 1.5 years to go through to complete life cycle from smolt up to 5-7 kg salmon. The following benefits were shown at a 15% inclusion levels of oceanfeed compared with a high grade reference diet:

  1. Higher weight gain
  2. FCR lowered by 0.1 point
  3. Uptake of pigmentation from algae up to 23-24 on SalmoFan.
  4. Higher Omega 3 oil levels in feed
  5. Overall health improvement and faster recovery from Anesthetic
  6. Significant lower sea lice on fish, up to 60% less gravid females and adult stages of male and female lice
  7. 55% lower mortality rates
  8. No deformities or runts
  9. Improved gut health as shown in histological staining of gut sections of trial fish. Caused by short chain Oligosaccharides
  10. Significantly improved taste and texture of fish
  11. Low fat (belly flaps) and leaner fish
  12. Easier to process, fillet and smoke (no oil leakage)
  13. Improved environmental record due to no release of foreign synthetic matters in the feed. Seaweed is a marine product harvested from the marine environment in a sustainable way.

Shrimp trials

The shrimp industry is a factor 10+ larger compared to salmon, with salmon needing about 1.8 million tonnes of feed per annum and shrimp 28 million tonnes of feed. With the results from the salmon trial we could with some adjustments do a similar thing and replace premixes in shrimp feed and improve disease resistance. This shrimp seaweed ingredient called Oceanfeed™- shrimp contains a plethora of natural bioactive compounds which by incorporating in the diet can modulate several functions in shrimp and assist in the control of chronic diseases and viral infections found in farmed shrimp. It allows for disease free farmed shrimp to be reared in a more natural and sustainable way, easing concerns on environmental impact and sustainability. Late last year and early this year several shrimp trials were undertaken using a 10% Oceanfeed diet compared to high standard reference shrimp feed in P. monodon and vannemei, globally the two most cultured shrimp. At the end of the trial part of the shrimps were blast frozen and send for taste testing. After the growth trials OHT commissioned the Shrimp Research unit of the University of Ghent to conduct challenge tests to test for the effect of the inclusion of Oceanfeed on viral and bacterial diseases. The results showed a positive outcome of having Oceanfeed incorporated at 10% in the diet.  In brief the following results were obtained:

  • Higher weight gain (Shrimp fed with Oceanfeed at harvest were 5.2% heavier on average than control)
  • FCR lowered by 0.1 point
  • Uptake of pigmentation from algae in Shrimp.
  • 25% lower mortality rates
  • No deformities or runts
  • Significantly improved taste and texture of the shrimp. Tested and proven with independent taste panels
  • Improved survival and onset of mortality times
  • Improved environmental record due to no release of foreign synthetic matters in the feed. Seaweed is a marine product harvested from the marine environment in a sustainable way.

OceanFeed Shrimp

Growing seaweeds

As most seaweeds that we use for Oceanfeed™ are still from sustainable wild harvest we looked at the possibility of cultivating specific seaweeds of high importance for our feed formulations. Of course seaweed cultivation is nothing new and has been practised for over 300 years in Japan. In Asia, seaweed cultivation is by far more important in terms of output and value than any other form of aquaculture. Looking at a global scale the value of cultivated, managed and wild harvested seaweeds exceed over € 7.0 billion with 89% of this value derived from aquaculture. Seaweeds are also the industrial sources of carrageenans (Chondrus, Eucheuma and Kappaphycus), alginates (Ascophyllum, Laminaria, and Macrocystis) and agars (Gelidium  and Gracilaria). These important polysaccharides are used in the food, textile, paint, biotechnological and biomedical industries and have a global value of approximately € 600 million. Seaweeds have significant value in agriculture as soil additives, fertilizers and seaweed meals with their value over € 20 million. The increasing demand for safe, healthy, and minimally processed foods is creating an opportunity for seaweed products as functional foods, nutraceuticals, and alternative medicinal products. In Ireland, over the last 5 years a strong interest has developed in seaweeds as functional food or nutraceuticals. Research is focused on the establishment of low-volume high-value seaweeds in aquaculture. Moreover, new applications of algae and specific algal compounds in different sectors, such as food supplements, cosmetics, biomedicine and biotechnology are developed. Recent trends in life style towards natural, healthy products are favourable for advancement of seaweed aquaculture in Ireland

Additional environmental benefits

Seaweeds are well-able to reduce N and P in their surrounding environment. If no fertilizers are used seaweed farms could act as N and P filtering units in near coastal environments reducing eutrophication risks from agricultural land run-off .Moreover, seaweed farms can act as short-term CO2 sink reducing acidification of global oceans. Inputs of  biodegradable organic matter and inputs deriving from fertiliser run-off together with run off or dilution from finfish and shellfish rearing in near-shore waters and land based activities have many effects on the quality of coastal inshore waters and are a primary cause of eutrophication due to increased availability of nutrients. Kelp farms (inshore and nearshore) are able to act as bio-filters and are able to remove nitrates and phosphates from the surrounding eutrophic inshore waters. This allows for increased production of farmed seaweed as demonstrated by Chopin et al.,in Canada. Eutrophe waters are high in ammonia and phosphorous which can be stripped from the water by seaweed at rates varying from 60% up to 90% of the nutrient input. Macroalgae are able to take up nitrogen from seawater with rates to allow for a biomass increase of ca. 10% day-1. It is well documented that the green alga Ulva is able to remove 90% of the nitrogenous compounds and the red alga Gracilaria up to 95% of dissolved ammonium from fish effluent. By sea cultivating and harvesting macroalgae as biofilters integrated with other shellfish or fish production systems, nutrient polution from these aquaculture systems could be alleviated through a process called IMTA (Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture) while increasing production and carrying capacity. Production of macroalgae in near-shore sea cultivation can be harvested for the bioethanol market to produce a value added marketable product acting as both an economic incentive and environmental incentive.

However, the focus has shifted and is more and more fixed on alternative protein resources. Seaweed has levels of crude protein between 15-40% of the dryweight and could be an untapped resource for protein production for fed aquaculture. Analysis of the amino acid profiles of the protein fraction shows very comparable or better profiles compared to fish meal, with the advantage that seaweed protein is about 90% of the extracted product while fishmeal contains about 60-70% protein. By using seaweeds and seaweed proteins it will help reduce the pressure and reliance on wild fish stock and some other traditional ingredients and will soon play an important role in the feed and food production. . Development of future large-scale seaweed farms will positively contribute to the growth of maritime sectors and can be a viable alternative for fisherman as existing infrastructure can be applied. It further might enhance employment opportunities in local rural coastal areas in the form of seed hatcheries, seeding units and processing units and create employment opportunities that otherwise would not exist.

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