Highlights from the Aqua session at the World Nutrition Forum 2014

Aqua Session at the World Nutrition Forum 2014First, Dr. Albert Tacon of Aquatic Farms, USA, gave an excellent overview of current industry figures and trends, showing how aquaculture’s average annual growth rate of 8.6% is clearly outpacing the capture fisheries sector’s rate of just 0.6%. Such growth raises concerns on sustainable development. Dr. Ram Bhujel of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand cited Asian polyculture in ponds as a good example of sustainable production system. Yet, updated practices are needed to reduce pollution and improve biosecurity. According to Dr. Dominique Bureau of Guelf University in Canada, more efficient diets can reduce waste, though more should be done to characterize the nutritional requirements of different species. From the salmon industry, Dr. Catarina Martins of Marine Harvest ASA in Norway stressed that sustainability is not only a matter of reputation but also a matter of business success and value creation, citing the Global Salmon Initiative, in which major salmon producers representing 70% of production, work together to solve key issues of sustainability, health, and feed in a cooperative, transparent way.

The second part of the Aquaculture breakout session focused on industry-shaping innovations.  Dr. Peter Bossier of Ghent University, Belgium, explained how the control of host microbial interactions can play a role in a sustainable aquaculture industry less dependent on antibiotic use. In particular the communication among bacteria, or quorum sensing, can be disrupted using molecules added to feed to prevent the onset of pathogenicity of some important pathogens. Using phages to control common aquaculture bacterial pathogens offers another way to reduce antibiotics. According to Dr. Lisa Elliot of AusPhage, Australia, phage therapy can make use of viral agents that only infect bacteria behind important aquaculture diseases such as EMS.

Dr. Adel El Mowafi of EWOS Innovation, Norway, gave an interesting overview on functional feeds in the salmon industry; for example, the use of nucleotides, prebiotics and immunostimulants to support good health and better performance. According to him, the use of plant extracts could reduce the attachment of sea lice to salmon by 30%, making it a promising tool in integrated pest management. Finally, Dr. Pedro Encarnação of BIOMIN Singapore explained how the concept of NutriEconomics which integrates nutrition, economics and sustainability in a holistic approach can help the industry achieve better results. He cited the example of how a phytogenic feed additive helped pangasius farmers reduce costs, improve performance and reduce environmental impact.