Mapping the evolution of raw material demands from fed aquaculture

Supervisory Team:

Dr Rich Cottrell (IMAS)

Dr Beth Penrose (TIA)

Brief project description:

Global aquaculture growth will be essential to meeting growing demand for seafood into the future. Of the 80 million tonnes of food biomass produced by aquaculture, most is sustained by human made compound feeds. In recent years, the composition of compound aquaculture feeds has changed substantially - from those dominated by fishmeal and oil derived from wild caught fish to feeds largely composed of crop and livestock by-products, and emerging novel ingredients from single-cell organisms and insects. This evolution in formulation has addressed numerous sustainability concerns on the use of wild fish in feed but has increasingly shifted environmental pressures from feed production onto terrestrial systems. Yet, to what extent this shift has reduced or increased the appropriation of natural resources remains poorly resolved, largely due to a poor understanding of how to allocate the embedded biomass of marine and terrestrial raw materials across the various products, coproducts, and by-products now used as aquafeed ingredients.

Using feed profiles for one model species or multiple farmed taxa, the project will address this gap by:

  • Creating a portfolio of feed ingredients and identifying their coproducts, by products, and respective yields produced during manufacturing processes.
  • Calculating the embedded raw material demands attributable to each ingredient by deriving allocation factors based on economic or energetic parameters.
  • Modelling and mapping the global changes in the raw material production needed to support fed aquaculture for both historical and contemporary feed archetypes.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

  • Expertise in R statistical programming and using Git/Github for collaboration
  • Competence in global spatial analyses.
  • Experience in aquaculture sustainability research including exposure and contribution to a broader ARC Linkage project on the use of sustainable aquaculture feeds to support ecosystem-based management.
Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
November 17, 2022