Spotlight project

Algal oil enables the sustainable growth of Atlantic salmon aquaculture

There is an urgent need to scale up supply of alternative sources of Omega-3 (EPA & DHA). Currently, global demand for seafood is increasing, but the marine resources used to produce fish oil are limited and consequently, the levels of EPA & DHA in salmon fillets have decreased. Algal oil contains high levels of both of these Omega-3 fatty acids and is a cost effective and proven alternative that increases supply without taking more fish from the sea.

In 2023, Veramaris published a landmark scientific paper in the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, demonstrating how algal oil gives control of long-chain Omega-3 levels in full-cycle production of Atlantic salmon.

Our results confirmed that algal oil can partially and fully replace fish oil. Its inclusion in fish feed can enable the sustainable growth of Atlantic salmon aquaculture by helping to maintain and control a level of EPA & DHA in the fish fillet – without detriment to zootechnical performance and sensory characteristics, while simultaneously contributing to a reduced marine footprint for aquafeeds.

This research is of great importance to the aquaculture industry as up until now, the replacement of fish oil with algal oil has not been studied comprehensively over the full life cycle of the fish. The demand for seafood will only continue to grow, and algal oil is paving the way as a healthy, sustainable replacement for uncertain sources of fish oil in feed.

Read an extract from our study:

“The utilization of algal oil also minimizes dependency on marine resources as measured by the ­forage fish dependency ratio for fish oil (FFDRoil), thereby improving the ­sustainability of aquafeeds. The FFDRoil decreased from 2.54 to 0, demonstrating that the inclusion of algal oil instead of fish oil can improve the marine footprint during the ­grow-out phase.”

Page 876 from: Santigosa, E., Olsen, R. E., Madaro, A., Trichet, V. V., & Carr, I. (2023). Algal oil gives control of long-chain omega-3 levels in full-cycle production of Atlantic salmon, without detriment to zootechnical performance and sensory characteristics. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 54(4), 861–881.

Get the inside story from the project leader

“Data obtained here reinforces the fact that algal oil can effectively be used as a primary source of EPA & DHA in salmon feed.”

What are some of the most interesting findings from the study?

The paper closed an important gap in the research of alternative ingredients, for the first time ­assessing the impact of algal oil in diets covering the full ­production cycle of farmed salmon. Moreover, the maintenance of zootechnical performance and ­sensory characteristics combined with a higher nutritional ­value of the fillet for the consumer, show that the ­ingredient can support the sustainable growth of salmon farming within planetary boundaries.

What long-term impact could the study have on the industry?

This study is helping to ­promote the commercial adoption of algal oil as a standard part of the formulation, helping to ­reduce the reliance on marine resources and ­driving positive long-term impacts on sustainability and ­product quality.

Why is research into alternative feed ingredients ­important?

It’s essential for promoting sustainability, minimizing environmental impact, and ensuring the long-term ­viability of the industry. Controlled use of alternative ingredients can enhance precision farming by reducing batch-to-batch variability. This empowers farmers to maintain nutritional standards in the feed, resulting in fewer downgrades at harvest and food losses.

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