ALGAFISH: Inclusion of microalgas in sea bass diets: boosting immunity through nutrition
The aquaculture feed industry requires suitable and sustainable ingredients alternative to fishmeal and fish oil. Microalgae are potential candidates, particularly because of their long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (namely omega-3 fatty acids) and other bioactive compounds with immunostimulant, antioxidant or probiotic function.
Microalgae already being produced in a Portuguese biorefinery will be tested for their nutritional value as ingredients in sea bass diets. Sea bass is an important aquaculture species largely exploited in the Mediterranean countries.
Microalgae will be tested as functional ingredient in marine fish aquafeeds, and its putative beneficial effect in fish health and welfare evaluated. Animal health and welfare is a pressing issue in animals reared in captivity, since healthy and stress-free animals are less prone to diseases. In aquaculture, the high rearing densities together with the aquatic medium surrounding fish facilitates the propagation of diseases. Thus, nowadays, aquafeeds are expected to deliver not only the required nutrients for maximization of fish performance but also functional ingredients that guarantee fish health and welfare.
Since fish are claimed to be beneficial for human health due to their fatty acid profile, namely omega-3 fatty acids, known for their effects in cardiovascular diseases prevention, Algafish will evaluate if the valuable components of microalgae are being incorporated in fish flesh.
In conclusion, the use of microalgae is expected to contribute towards more cost-effective and eco-friendly aquaculture. Both outcomes are in line with the Portuguese and European strategies for sustainable development of aquaculture.
Aquafeeds of the future are expected to impart dual benefits of good growth and health to the farmed organism, and preventive health care through nutritional means is certainly a strategy to ensure sustainability in aquaculture.