Alternative sources of Omega-3

Diet is a major factor in the health, growth, and quality of farmed salmon. In particular, the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are essential nutrients in salmon feed. These nutrients are historically sourced from ocean-caught fish; however, the ocean cannot provide enough of these nutrients to sustainably supply the rapidly growing aquaculture industry.

An aerial view of green algae

Omega-3 from marine algae - an innovative solution for increased protein production

Skretting feeds containing no fish meal or fish oil can successfully grow salmon to harvest size with no negative impact on fish performance or health while retaining the nutritional content of the salmon fillet.

This was made possible with the innovation from our collaborator Veramaris  to produce industry-first marine algal oil containing both long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Through our collaboration, the dream of being infinitely flexible with feed ingredients became a reality.

This has been possible due to the innovation from our collaborator Veramaris, a joint venture between DSM and Evonik, to produce industry-first marine algal oil containing both long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. 

Through our collaboration, the dream of being infinitely flexible with feed ingredients became a reality. “Veramaris produces the two essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from natural marine algae for animal nutrition. We are happy to see our pioneering algal oil used in Skretting’s commercial feeds,” says Karim Kurmaly, CEO at Veramaris.

Made possible through expert knowledge

Fish oil has been difficult to substitute out of fish feed because previously the only source of EPA and DHA was small pelagic fish harvested from the ocean. Despite being currently in good supply, fish oil is a limited resource and in high demand from a number of other feed, food and pharmaceutical sectors. However, fish cannot produce large amounts of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The original source is marine microalgae. Through the culture of microalgae, the fatty acids can be obtained while bypassing the marine food chain entirely

Skretting is the only commercial feed company able to fully-replace marine ingredients. Research by Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre focuses on gaining a deep understanding of ingredients, their nutritional properties and their interactions within the fish. Through this understanding and formulation technology, feed ingredients have become interchangeable and infinitely flexible, enabling farmers to produce more fish from less resources – essentially this means maximum nutrition with minimal impact.

Collaboration is essential

Along with other players in the value chain, Skretting is part of a multi-stakeholder movement. Veramaris CEO Kurmaly says, “The multi-stakeholder dialogue is transformational. All parties have realised that sustainable solutions are affordable, they help secure the supply of healthy seafood and they support our ambitions for aquaculture to truly lead in sustainability.”

“To feed the world in decades to come we will need to produce more protein using fewer natural resources – aquaculture alone must double production in the next 30 years,” says Jose Villalon, Nutreco Sustainability Director. “To achieve this, we need to reduce our dependence on natural resources that will be limited in availability as the industry grows, such as the fish oil we use in salmon feed. Finding alternative ingredients requires innovation – and we can only drive this through close collaboration and strategic partnerships across the value chain.” 

Sissel Susort, Skretting Global Product Manager agrees that the multi-stakeholder approach has a lot of potential and can help Skretting introduce or help scale up much needed oil, and protein, ingredient sources for the aquaculture industry. “This is necessary as we work to increase protein production and feed the growing global population – and it is important to be at the forefront rather than wait until a crisis is upon us. Collaboration and innovation are essential to help us fulfil our mission of Feeding the Future.”

Omega-3 from Canola

There is a gap between how much omega-3 oil the ocean can supply and how much aquaculture needs to support fish health. Feed inclusion rates for these essential nutrients have declined as production has increased over the past twenty years, yet study after study indicates the benefits of high omega-3 content for fish health and fillet nutrition. Novel sources of long-chain fatty acids are vital to expanding our business without adding pressure to marine resources.

Nuseed is a global leader in seed development, who developed the world’s first canola-based source of DHA and EPA; Aquaterra® This ingredient is well aligned with our goals and values and doesn’t demand additional farmlands or add pressure to marine resources.  Just one to two hectares of Nuseed Omega-3 Canola produces as much DHA as 10,000 kg of wild caught fish oil.

Since the commercial launch in 2020, Aquaterra has become an important tool for reducing dependence on foraged fish oil in our Chilean and Canadian operations. The partnership will continue to expand as Nuseed gains regulatory approval in additional salmon production markets.


What do we mean by 'novel ingredients'?
Insect meal in commercial Skretting feed
Alternative sources of Omega-3
Vegetable protein
The novel ingredient dilemma
Harnessing the power of plants