Australians look to sustainable aquaculture for petfood

Australian fish farms may offer an alternative to the supplies of fish currently imported from Asia for petfood. The farms would use treated waste from the food industry to feed the fish.

Some 10,000 – 15,000 tonnes of finfish are needed in Australia per year. There is currently no aquaculture product in Australia that could meet this requirement.

Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) think there is an opportunity to satisfy Australian consumers with fish grown in Australia.

Pilchards and sardines for cat food are currently imported from Thailand, the USA, and, until recently, Australia. The cat food market in Australia also has a lot of imported canned pilchards manufactured in Thailand.

This is simply due to the cheap fish and labour when the product is sourced, say the company. In future CSIRO would prefer to have these products sourced from Australia based on cheap, high quality fish canned on high speed production lines in Victoria.

A research project is already investigating the feasibility of producing, cultured omnivorous finfish for use in pet food, by utilising some of the 30,000 tonnes of food industry by products in Victoria.

Dr Peter Rothlisberg, CSIRO, said that Australian aquaculture is entering a new era, one in which resource and environmental concerns play a much larger role in public perception and government and industry decision making.

“If modern aquaculture is to survive it will have to become more compatible with other resource users and with the natural environment,” said Dr Rothlisberg. “Scientists can help resolve issues of sustainable aquaculture and environment management by advising on what is physically or biologically possible. Decision makers, both regulatory and industry, can then put this information into a political and economic context,” he says.

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