Salmon require protein and a source of omega-3, traditionally fish oil, in their diets. In conventional aquaculture, both of these nutrients come from feeder fish. It’s currently estimated that 50% of the world’s fish oil production goes into farming salmon[1], which is having a significant impact on wild feeder fish populations—and the salmon that depend on them.

New Diet

All salmon get their essential omega-3s from their diets.  In the wild, salmon eat small oily fish such as anchovies that are high in omega-3 oils. Farmed salmon are fed a diet that contains fish oil rendered from these feeder fish. 

However, the principal problem in salmon aquaculture is how many wild feeder fish must be captured to feed farmed salmon.  The “fish in/fish out” ratio for salmon is 3:1.  This means it takes about four pounds of wild-caught feeder fish to provide the fish oil needed to raise one pound of salmon.  But  feeder fish are critical to the health of ocean ecosystems and their depletion is a major environmental issue.  Verlasso’s farming practices lower the fish in/fish out ratio of the salmon’s diet from the industry standard of 3:1 to 1:1.

We do this by feeding our fish a yeast that is genetically modified to produce omega-3s.  By feeding a diet that is less than 10% yeast we save 75% of the feeder fish used in traditional salmon aquaculture while retaining the omega-3s in our salmon. This much-needed change moves us toward our goal of having plentiful salmon now and into the distant future.

Sources
  1. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2008, Part 3: Highlights of Special Studies.