The F3 - Future of Fish Feed launched its newest aquaculture feed contest — the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge — to spark innovation for a substitute for krill in aquafeeds.
Up to ten companies are invited to register for the contest that will award a USD 100,000 grand prize for the krill replacement product that results in the best growth, feed consumption and survival during a 12-week feeding trial on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Registration is open until August 31, 2023.
“We are upping the stakes in our fourth challenge to the aquaculture industry to replace another critical marine animal ingredient in fish feed,” said Kevin Fitzsimmons, professor at the University of Arizona and chair of the Future of Fish Feed. “We invite innovators from the feed supplement, feed ingredient, and synthetic biology sectors to join us in advancing more sustainable aquaculture practices that will improve food security globally.”
The F3 Krill Replacement Challenge—the fourth contest hosted by the Future of Fish Feed—was motivated by scientific research that has shown sharp declines in krill populations by as much as 80%, the result of climate-induced changes in ocean temperature, currents, acidification and regional overfishing.
Krill is a popular aquafeed ingredient for its nutritional benefits and is thought to increase feed palatability and fish growth. As a result, the commercial krill fishery located in the Arctic and Antarctic has steadily increased production over the last decade from a high of 200,000 tons in 2010 to 450,000 tons in 2020. The rapidly expanding industrial fishery coupled with climate-induced stressors presents considerable risks to the global krill supply.
A wide variety of marine life depends upon these tiny shrimp-like crustaceans at the base of the marine food chain including whales, penguins, and commercially important wild fisheries like salmon, rockfish, squid, and sardines. Krill is also important for its role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The contest will be run as a comparative feeding trial in which each competitor’s feed additive, attractant or other feed-enhancing product free of marine-animal ingredients will be incorporated into a F3-designed, plant-based feed for Atlantic salmon. To determine a winner, the F3 judges will compare salmon weight gain, feed conversion ratio, and survival observed for each krill replacement product. A diet containing krill meal is also included in the trial as a control.
The challenge focuses on a widely consumed fish—Atlantic salmon—that is known by farmers to be finicky eaters. The krill replacement products have the potential to benefit many other farmed seafood producers seeking to enhance the performance of “fish-free” feeds since krill is not only used to enhance nutrition but also for its perceived attributes as an attractant and palatant.
To join the race to replace krill in aquafeeds, visit the F3 Krill Replacement Challenge website www.f3challenge.org.