Revolutionizing Aquaculture: Transforming Waste into Sustainable Feed Solutions – A groundbreaking initiative led by researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) is paving the way for a chemical-free solution to treat aquaculture waste. This innovative project focuses on repurposing nutrient-rich waste matter by feeding it to marine worms (polychaetes), transforming it into a protein-rich feed ingredient for farmed salmon. The aim is to introduce circularity to seafood operations, enhancing sustainability in the aquaculture sector.
Traditionally, aquaculture waste is recycled, often used as agricultural fertilizer. However, this novel approach takes it a step further by repurposing by-products within the farmed salmon sector, specifically as a protein-rich feed ingredient. This circular approach not only contributes to waste reduction but also brings economic and environmental benefits.
Funded by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), the project collaborates with salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms, utilizing their Barcaldine Hatchery for the study’s duration. The process involves water treatment equipment, provided by Power and Water, utilizing an electrochemical process and ultrasound technology to extract excess water from the waste. The resulting nutrient-rich material is then fed to marine worms to stimulate growth, while the remaining wastewater undergoes further filtration using natural seaweed to absorb nitrogen and phosphorous.
In the subsequent project phase, the research team will evaluate the nutritional profile of the marine worms, focusing on protein and fatty acids, to determine their suitability as an aquaculture feed ingredient. Polychaetes are already used in seafood production for shrimp feed during the breeding stage, and their potential in agricultural animal feed has also been explored.
Dr. Georgina Robinson, the lead researcher, emphasizes the opportunity to change attitudes toward aquaculture waste, stating, “Aquaculture waste is not typically considered as valuable as co-products from other sectors, but there are a range of opportunities to be explored that could change that attitude.” By adopting a circular approach, co-products can be used to aid the growth of other organisms, promoting sustainability in the sector.
The project’s final stage includes assessing the environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, comparing the new approach to existing waste disposal methods. Currently, liquid aquaculture waste is transported and spread on rural land after treatment.
Scottish Sea Farms anticipates that the project could diversify the range of by-products derived from fish waste. Ewen Leslie, head of freshwater engineering at Scottish Sea Farms, envisions expanding and diversifying the by-products delivered through this collaboration.
SAMS plans to bring this circular concept to market under a spinout called N-ovatio-N early next year. The project has already received recognition, with lead researcher Dr. Georgina Robinson winning the top prize from The Converge Challenge, providing crucial funding for the next phase of development. SAIC CEO Heather Jones emphasizes the importance of such innovations in supporting aquaculture sustainability by tackling waste at the source and creating viable circular models that have both environmental and commercial benefits.
Revolutionizing Aquaculture: Transforming Waste into Sustainable Feed Solutions