Half the seafood that U.S. consumers eat comes from aquaculture—the raising and harvesting of freshwater and marine species in controlled conditions. Over 90 percent of that seafood is imported, creating a U.S. trade deficit of more than $14 billion.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and its partners are working to close that gap on several research fronts. One such area is the development of cost-effective feeds that will help the U.S. aquaculture industry expand and capture a greater share of the world market for fishery products.
Toward that end, ARS researchers are exploring plant-based alternatives to fishmeal and fish oil. These two aquafeed ingredients are made from so-called forage fish caught in the open ocean, like menhaden, herring, mackerel, anchovy, and sardine. Fishmeal and oil are rich sources of amino acids, lipids, and other nutrients that farm-raised species need to grow—especially carnivorous ones like Atlantic salmon, striped bass, and rainbow trout.
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