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Fish oil substitutes may improve environmental health

February 13, 2009 by  

Fish oil can come from sustainable sourcesA new study has suggested that reliance on fish oil replacements may help reduce the farmed fish industry’s dependence on resources from the wild.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of farmed fish feed and 90 percent of them are currently derived from natural fisheries, but researchers from the School of Life and Environmental Science at Deakin University in Australia claim that alternative lipid sources may reduce the environmental impact of the practice.

Dr Giovanni Turchini from Deakin University explains the paradox facing the fish farming industry by saying, "There is heavy emphasis for aquaculture to meet the global shortage of fish and seafood created by unsustainable fishing practices. However, dietary fish oil … required for the production of omega-3-rich farmed fish … is at present derived solely from wild fisheries."

According to the study, about 75 percent of dietary fish oil can be substituted with vegetable oils and animal fats without impacting the quality of the farmed product.

In addition to stemming the depletion of natural fish habitats, such replacement may also remove existing barriers to the industry’s expansion.
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