The move is being tested as part of an effort to look for alternatives to the use of marine animal-based products in aqua feed, said Citlali Gomez-Lepe, CEO of NemiNatura. “It is a necessity, and a responsibility and it is urgent,” she added.
About the F3 challenge
The ongoing aqua feed challenge has teams of fish feed producers racing to sell 100,000 tons of fish feed that does not include any fishmeal or fish oil. The challenge runs through September of 2017, unless a competitor meets the goal first.
The goal of the competition is to support innovation of new ingredients to replace both fishmeal and fish oil, said Kevin Fitzsimmons, event spokesperson, in a previous interview. It seeks to prompt the use of alternative ingredients and grow the aquaculture industry.
“We’re using soy, and feather meal, and hydrolyzed feather meal, and algae extracts, but many of us feel that it’s not happening fast enough,” he said. “We need to get a lot more of these ingredients into commercial usage.”
In addition to her work with NemiNatura, Gomez-Lepe is the vice president of COMEPESCA the Mexican Council for the promotion of seafood and aquaculture consumption.
“Ocean resources are limited and we have the responsibility to look for alternatives,” she told FeedNavigator.
The announcement of the feeding trial came after the Mexico-based company started work with F3 the Fish-Free Feed Challenge, she said.
The company is working with a diet developed through advice from Frederic Barrows, fish nutritionist with Aquatic Feed Technologies and Iowa State University, and is based upon a feed he designed for TwoXSea, one of the companies taking part in the F3 challenge, competition members reported.
The diet uses marine algae in place of fish oil and several plant proteins as an alternative to fishmeal. TwoXSea has been using the related aqua feed for about eight years, said Kenny Belov, co-founder of TwoXSea. The company is happy to see NemiNatura trial the feed, he added.
NemiNatura has previously prioritized environmental maintenance and sustainability efforts in its production, said Gomez-Lepe.
“In NemiNatura we have always cared for the environment, and the conservation of forests, and now we add this project, in which we truly believe, so we can do things the way that should be done,” she said. “The possibility of an environmentally responsible feed for the farm matches our criteria.”
The Mexico-based company produces about 70 tons of trout a year, she said. It also works with an association of trout farmers in Michoacan, which together produce more than 1,000 tons of fish annually.
“Breeding trout in the forests of central Mexico gives [a] source of employment, and helps get some pressure out of the illegal cut,” she said. “We use the water sustainably and get it back to the natural river after it is cleaned by biofilters.”
One goal looking forward will be to promote use of the fishmeal and oil free diet with other farms in the region, said Gomez-Lepe. Another is to be able to continue making the feed with local ingredients.
“We really expect positive results,” she said. The group will be watching for growth rate, feed conversion and to see if it alters the flavor of the trout, she added.
If the trial is successful, the plan is to continue on with the alternative feed, she said.