Flavour enhancing functional feeds for farmed barramundi

Aquaculture is among the fastest growing food-production industries in the world with farmed fish now exceeding wild-capture fisheries in terms of tonnes produced. The vast majority of this growth has occurred in developing countries such as China, India and Vietnam.

In developed countries like Australia, aquaculture production is also expanding. However, as the local market is flooded with mass-produced imported seafood products, local growers have set their sights on growing products of excellent quality in order to maintain and grow market share.

In Australia, fish farmers have developed specialised techniques to optimise product quality. Whether that is by providing the fish with high quality water, free from contaminants; enriching fish with antioxidants to improve shelf-life; or harvesting fish humanely to optimise flavour quality, local industries are at the forefront of quality standards.

Now the industry plans to put another arrow in its quiver – Flavour Enhancing Aquafeeds –

The use of specially formulated diets to optimise the flavour quality of farmed fish is among the most exciting new avenues of aquaculture research. It has recently been shown that using natural additives in aquaculture diets can impart highly desirable flavours to farmed fish. In the last few years, Australian researchers have shown that locally grown barramundi, already a highly respected stalwart on the Australian seafood scene, can be fed diets containing organically grown sea lettuce, with the resulting fish exceeding all benchmarks for flavour quality. While this technology is only in the early stages of development, local farmers have thrown their support behind a research project to bring flavour enhancing aqua-feeds to commercial reality.

Deakin University, a world-leader in aquaculture nutrition research, will lead this innovative project, bringing together barramundi farmers, aqua-feed manufacturers and local seaweed growers. The project is supported through financial and in-kind contributions from industry leaders including:

  • Humpty Doo Barramundi, the Northern Territory’s largest barramundi farm
  • Mainstream Aquaculture, Australia’s largest barramundi hatchery and a world leader in recirculating aquaculture technology
  • Ridley Corporation, Australia’s leading provider of high performance animal nutrition solutions
  • Pacific Biotechnologies, an Australian aquaculture and biotech company that is setting a new standard in sustainable on-shore aquaculture

The project brings together leading scientific institutions, with James Cook University, the University of Milan and Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries all committing to support the project towards its ultimate goal.

Led by NuSea.Lab the key focus of the group will be to investigate naturally occurring flavour-active compounds in seafood and marine algae with aim of developing of a commercially available flavour enhancing aqua-feed that can further enhance the already high quality of Australian Farmed Barramundi.

Green seaweed (Ulva compressa). Marine fish.