OddGeir Oddsen believes that the entire aquaculture value chain will have to rethink what protein sources are the best and most sustainable.
Imagine that you were born today. By the time you turn 30, you will be sharing this planet with 10 billion other people. In many ways all of you will be very different. But there is one thing each and every one of you will share. You will be dependent on access to proteins. Because proteins are not just food – they are the very building block of life. They perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including DNA replication, responding to stimuli, and providing structure to cells and organisms.
With its office on the southwest coast of Norway, one company has given itself quite a hairy mission statement. It wants to create a sustainable aquaculture industry through biotechnology and feed innovation. In fact, this is to contribute to a cleaner and healthier aquaculture industry. We know it will pay off, not just for those engaged in aquaculture, but also for future generations.
Replacing fish meal
ProChaete is a leading brand of exceptionally effective aquaculture feed. The company, Prochaete Innovations is developing feeds based on nutrient dense marine worms that offer a safe protein alternative.
When we started, it was first and foremost to develop new ways to use proteins in the aquaculture value chain, says the company’s managing director OddGeir Oddsen. Most of the protein in the aquaculture industry today comes from fish meal and soybean meal, he explains. Fish meal is generally manufactured from wild-caught, small marine fish, and usually deemed not suitable for direct human consumption.
According to scientists, the challenge the world is now facing is overexploitation of the oceans. Every year, 6 million tonnes of fish meal are produced around the world. Lack of regulations in some countries creates a situation where the seas are virtually emptied for some species. Since fish meal can be made out of almost all species living in water, some countries are fishing for almost anything that can be captured.
In the long run, as a non-renewable resource, the use of fish meal for aquaculture at the current level is not sustainable, explains Oddsen. We have to find good replacements, and that is what we are working on at ProChaete right now. In fact, finding good replacements for fish meal for the aquaculture industry, was one of the first goals we set out to reach as a company. We saw that the industry relied too heavily on fish meal and soybean meal as the main dietary protein source. At the same time, we knew that feeds made from polychaetes represented an environment-friendly and effective alternative. Feed produced by polychaetes also gives a very positive probiotic effects and contribute to a better bacterial health for fish and animals. That is why we decided to go all in with the polychaetes.
ProChaete get their polychaetes from bio-secure ponds in Europe. Experiments conducted by the company in several places around the world gave promising results on species such as sea bass, sea bream, salmon and shrimp. Our ideas proved to work in practice. When we knew that we have a competitive product, we went to market with a wide range of feed for the shrimp industry, one which is close to our hearts.
We were certain that we were on to something that could make a significant difference – not only in the aquaculture industry, but other industries as well, says Oddsen.
Back to the future
Now together with colleagues, I am returning to the starting point; to take this further for the development and management of proteins everywhere. We will focus on the development of sustainable proteins which can be sold to feed producers in many industries, not only aquaculture. The goal is to be an important contributor to making other manufacturer’s value chain more sustainable, or a sort of think tank for tomorrow’s protein.
Circular and renewable energy
Innovation has always been the very core of the ProChaete brand. We look at our innovations as part of a circle economy, a major part of the solution to feeding a growing population sustainably.
For instance, let us take shrimp heads, says Oddsen. They have traditionally been regarded as waste by the shrimp farming industry, when in fact they are an exceptional source of high quality protein. Worms and other insects are a natural feed for many species. They have high protein levels and offer a unique probiotic effect. Likewise, trimmings from salmon production can be directly involved in the cultivation of polychaetes, which in turn become nutritious feed for a variety of fish and animal species. By using a circle economy model, we want to make sure that every ingredient yields as much value as possible.
Sharing a vision
In my opinion the entire aquaculture value chain will have to rethink which protein sources are the best and most sustainable, just as the transportation industry is doing with cars and power suppliers are doing for homes and businesses. At ProChaete we want to serve the aquaculture with new and innovative ways to produce high quality protein.
We want to share our vision of feeding a growing world with our customers worldwide, explains Oddsen. We hope that producers of feed view the challenges facing our rapid population growth in the same way as we do, and that they see that our innovations can help contribute to achieve a sustainable future. We want everyone to be a part of the solution.
Money, money, money
But is there anything in it for the feed producers? Are they willing to turn to other sources of protein if it’s not as profitable as the current ones?
With ProChaete, we strongly believe that buying products from us means to be accountable, and that is opens up for more transparency, says Oddsen. For us it is important that every measure is taken to reach our common goal of feeding a growing world. At the same time the end-users are increasingly moving towards demanding sustainable products. They want transparency. They want to know what they eat and where it came from. That is why I am certain that manufacturers who turn to a sustainable value chain will win in the market place.
Aqua Culture Asia PacificMagazine 01.2019