Camelina oil gets greenlight as fish oil replacement in Canadian aquafeed

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid Eicosapentaenoic acid Salmon

© iStock/Magone
© iStock/Magone
Canadian salmon and trout farmers are soon to have a new ingredient for making their fish feeds – mechanically-extracted camelina oil. 

The oil produced by the oilseed, camelina sativa, was approved for use in aqua feeds for salmonids by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), said the non-profit corporation, Genome Atlantic, a leader in the Camelina Project, an initiative conceived to unlock the potential of a hardy plant with an unusually high oil content.

The corporation works with genomic research and development projects to address challenges in several sectors including aquaculture.  

The process leading up to the approval started with several years of research exploring camelina use, said Cara Kirkpatrick, Camelina Project manager at Genome Atlantic. However, the initial research was not solely focused on getting a CFIA approval.

“It took about a year and nine months for the approval process,”​ she told us. “However, prior to that, the research project that gave us the data was five years in duration.”

Genome Atlantic also has a pending approval for camelina meal, she said. Additional information is being presented for that application.

“It will allow aquaculture feed producers to include it in their feeds for salmonids,”​ said Kirkpatrick. “Previous approvals were for other livestock species.”


The larger research project that generated some of the information needed for the approval was funded in part by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), said Genome Atlantic. The governmental department aims to support economic growth in the four Atlantic provinces in Canada through programs including the Atlantic innovation Fund (AIF).

“In 2010, through the AIF, ACOA invested $2,813,185 in Genome Atlantic for the camelina oil development project after a due diligence evaluation of an application submitted in response to a public call for proposals,”​ said ACOA. The total cost for the Camelina Project was about $6.1m, the department added.

“Genome Atlantic’s project has successfully met expected outcomes,” ​said ACOA. “Canadian Food Inspection Agency approval of camelina oil for use in fish feed is an important step in the eventual commercialization of this product.”

Fatty acid profile

The oil offers a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which was a reason why development of the oil was pursued, said Derek Anderson, fish nutritionist, Dalhousie University, and Camelina Project team member.

“We have much more detail on this fatty acid profile and its impact on finfish now,”​ he told FeedNavigator. “Camelina oil also has natural antioxidants that contribute to its stability, so it does not go rancid as quickly as other plant based high omega-3 oils.”

The oil offers another option for fish nutritionists adding lipids to an aqua feed, he said.

“Camelina oil is more attractive than the currently available plant oils because of its omega-3 fatty acid profile,” ​he said. “With the availability to choose camelina oil, the fish nutritionists can be nimbler in their selection of feedstuffs.”

The amount of omega-3 present in the oil means it can be used as a viable replacement for fish oil in aqua feeds, said Claude Caldwell of Dalhousie University. Ongoing research is examining the potential of camelina meal to replace some of the fishmeal in diets, he said.

Published research 

A study​ published in 2014 examined camelina oil’s use as a total replacement for fish oil and a partial replacement of fishmeal with camelina meal in the diets of farmed Atlantic salmon. The work found that the oil offered about 30% ALA (alpha-linoleic acid).

Use of the oil was able to support the growth and weight gain of the fish, but was not as successful when it also replaced part of the meal. 

A more recent feeding trial​ added the plant oil to the diets of farmed Atlantic salmon parr and found that the oil again supported weight gain and growth. Additionally, few intestinal changes were found from the alternative feed ingredient.

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