Fish farmers across the world now have access to more nutritional information thanks to a new database developed by University of Guelph researchers.
Although specific nutritional requirements for terrestrial animals like cattle, swine and poultry are well known by the producers who raise them, this is not the case for aquaculture. The sheer number of species in aquaculture means that there is a significant gap in the knowledge of nutritional needs of many farmed fish and aquatic organisms.
For three years Prof. Dominique P. Bureau, Department of Animal Biosciences, led a team of researchers and a consortium of academic institutions to collect aquaculture nutritional information and knowledge into a central database. Over 500 aquatic species are farmed throughout globally.
“The global aquaculture feed sector is made up of a multitude of large and small feed manufacturers with very different scientific and technical capabilities, and logistical and financial resources,” Bureau says.
He explains that the large of number of species cultivated, the differences in production systems, the large number of feed ingredients used, and the significant variability in their chemical and nutritional composition, create a challenging environment for aquaculture feed producers.
“We addressed this challenge in a comprehensive and innovative way through development of the database,” he says.
The International Aquaculture Feed Formulation Database (IAFFD) is a free standardized online tool for feed formulators around the world.
“As we increase sustainability by moving away from fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds, the easy approach to formulation with those ingredients is over,” says Lukas Manomaitis, Aquaculture Program Lead Technical Consultant for the International Soy in Aquaculture Program of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the main sponsor of the database’s development.
Developing an aquaculture nutritional database from the ground up, that is not an adapted terrestrial animal database, is critically important, says Manomaitis. “To the best of our knowledge this is the only publicly available standardized database for aquaculture.”
The database was originally developed in 2014-15. After hosting eleven workshops for formulators in locations throughout South East Asia in 2015 and 2016 to use the first version, the project team is now expanding to an international scope.
“It is necessary to continuously monitor and improve to ensure the database is useful to industry," shares Bureau. "The focus of this phase is seeking feedback from different industry stakeholders about the usefulness and limitations of this tool and how it can be improved.”
Prof. Bureau’s research team received funding from U.S. Soybean Export Council, USAID and MITACS for their work on this project. A large number of University of Guelph graduate and undergraduate students, research associates and visiting scientists contributed to this project.
For more information please contact Dr. Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org
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