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Sahlman Seafoods’ shrimp farm in Nicaragua has mangrove trees that help offset carbon emissions. Photo courtesy of Grupo Sahlman/GAA

Aquaculture, feed companies embark on a carbon-cutting journey

  (UNITED STATES, 4/28/2021)

The following is an excerpt from an article published by the Global Aquaculture Advocate: 

Links in the industry value chain are moving to lower their carbon dioxide emissions, but challenges remain in achieving planned reductions

Driven by a desire to combat climate change and prodded by market expectations, the aquaculture industry aims to cut carbon emissions. Projects, for instance, plan to reduce the carbon footprint of aquaculture substantially, starting with salmon farming, potentially keeping two billion cumulative tons of carbon out of the air by 2030. That is equivalent to getting 400,000 cars off the road. These and additional reductions will happen because of innovations in feed, transportation and operations.

Aker BioMarine in March stated it was working to deploy “green” ammonia as a marine fuel. Ammonia has a higher energy density than hydrogen and requires fewer tank facilities. Photo courtesy of Aker BioMarine/GAA

Some producers will go carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative, locking away more carbon than they produce. Less carbon-intensive producers may become preferred suppliers.

But challenges remain. For one thing, most of the projected carbon savings haven’t yet been achieved. Also, the consensus is that a lower carbon footprint product will not command a price premium. That means emission reductions must happen without increasing costs.

The place to start is with feed, according to Dave Robb, program lead for sustainability at Cargill, one of the world’s largest animal feed producers. In March, the company announced its SeaFurther Sustainability initiative with a goal of cutting the carbon footprint per kilo of salmon produced by 30 percent by 2030. Other species may also be targeted.

Aquafeed’s carbon load varies by species and farming operations, but it is substantial, Robb told the Advocate: “Somewhere between 60 percent at the low end and 90 percent of the high end of total fish footprint at harvest is related to feed. That’s the direct footprint of feed and the scaling of that by the feed conversion ratio of how many kilos of feed you need to produce one kilo of fish.”

Salmon farming emits 10 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, he added. Fish farming as a whole generates 250 million tons annually. 

Shrimp producer Sahlman Seafoods of Nicaragua recently announced its carbon-neutral certification. The company operates a shrimp farm and a 100-hectare teak grove, a 200-hectare wild forest and a 40-hectare coffee plantation, which offset half the carbon emissions from shrimp production. Photo courtesy of Grupo Sahlman/GAA

To cut carbon, Cargill is working multiple angles. One is maximizing its productivity, so that more feed is produced with fewer carbon emissions.  Another approach increases producers’ efficiency with feed that makes fish grow faster and be healthier.

These two factors can interact. It may be, for example, that a higher carbon footprint feed actually ends up with a lower overall carbon emission for the entire production process because the fish reach maturity faster and are harvested sooner, Robb said. Cargill now has to deliver on its plans.

Évry, France-based Ÿnsect is in a similar position. The company has a patented process for cultivating mealworms to produce protein and fertilizer products. These have been used in place of traditional animal proteins in fish feed with a 34 percent increase in yield in rainbow trout and a 40 percent reduction in shrimp mortality, said CEO Antoine Hubert.

“By cultivating mealworms in a vertical farm, Ÿnsect uses 98 percent less land while significantly reducing the carbon and biodiversity footprints of protein production,” he said.

An analysis by independent assessment firm Quantis showed the total production was carbon negative. So, the technology locked away greenhouse gas rather than emitting it.

However, the price for the insect-derived product is higher than the traditionally sourced alternative. Hubert pointed out that fish given Ÿnsect’s products grow faster and are healthier, enabling higher aquaculture output. 

At present, Ÿnsect can produce 1,000 metric tons of protein and fertilizer a year. It is building a new plant that will have 200 times the production capability, or 200,000 metric tons. The company’s goal is to partner with other firms and build at least 10 of these strategically located insect farms within the next 10 years, Hubert stated. For comparison, according to a 2020 Alltech Global Feed Survey, worldwide aquaculture feed sales stood at 41 million metric tons in 2019. (continues...)

Author: Hank Hogan / Global Aquaculture Advocate | Read the full article by clicking de link here

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