Research project to study use of krill in animal feed

Norwegian krill harvesters believe bountiful Antarctic swarms could make feed for salmon and trout more sustainable.

Krill. Red shrimp. Krill. Red shrimp underwater.
Allexxandar | BigStock.com

Norwegian krill harvesters believe bountiful Antarctic swarms could make feed for salmon and trout more sustainable

Looking for a more sustainable animal feed? A Norwegian company believes a solution could be found in the Antarctic — and it has joined a new research collaboration to prove out its theory.

Oslo, Norway-based Aker BioMarine announced late last month that the company hopes to conduct a large-scale research trial into the performance of krill in salmon feed, in cooperation with partners LetSea and Nofima. The trial will test seven new feed ingredients, including krill, with a goal of increasing the use of new raw materials in fish feed from .4% to 25% by 2030, according to Aker Biomarine CEO Matt Johansen.

The company, which harvests and markets krill as a feed ingredient and for omega-3 supplements for humans, hopes to take a more active role in the research of new feed ingredients, Johansen said, citing a need for the faster development of sustainable feed ingredients.

Krill can serve as as source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and can even serve as an attractant in fish feed, according to Sigve Nordrum, executive vice president of animal health and nutrition at Aker BioMarine. The omega-3s contained within krill are more easily taken up by the organs, potentially resulting in improved fish health and fillet quality, and making krill meal “an excellent option for low fishmeals and … a very nice partner with plant-based ingredients,” Nordrum said.

Aker BioMarine products about 50,000 tons of krill-based products annually by harvesting krill from the Antarctic. While krill can be found in every ocean around the world, only Antarctic krill swim in large, dense-enough swarms to facilitate commercial harvest. The Antarctic also represents one of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world, according to the company.

Organisms from lower levels of the food chain also contain fewer toxins and require less processing for use in animal feed than fish caught for conventional fishmeal, according to Aker BioMarine. The company also argues that because less energy and nutrients are lost than at higher levels of the food chain, krill represent a more sustainable option than other marine ingredients.

“Sustainability is at the core of everything we do and it’s up to the ocean industries like ourselves to work methodically and sustainably over time to ensure that we are using this resource responsibly; it’s the only way forward,” Nordrum said.

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