One of the main aims of the Bythos project is to use new biotechnologies to convert fish waste into high value-added products, such as eco-innovative fish feed.
This activity concerns the production of fish feed formulas tested using the pre-treated fish waste which is not suited to BAMs extraction.
This activity takes advantage of the large aquaculture sector on Malta and of the expertise provided by the Maltese project partner AquaBioTech, operating in this sector. The fish feed is being tested on a number of fish species (sea bream, sea bass, trout, salmon and other species) in ABT’s fish farm facility. The feed is formulated paying careful consideration to the correct nutritional balance required by the fish. ABT is responsible for the quality testing of the fish feed product in terms of ‘waste in/fish out’. This parameter allows us to determine the quality of the fish feed product in relation to this specific production activity (fish farming) and could be used as an indicator of the ability to transform the waste disposal management problem, at least in part, into a sustainable and economic resource.
The key ingredients in fish food are protein (based on digestibility) and fats in the form of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The main source of these proteins and fats has traditionally been fish caught in various parts of the world and not the use of fish waste. In recent times, the fishing industry has started to add soya, grain, maize and vegetable oils to its fish food formulation due to rising costs and a fall in supply of fresh fish.
A few tonnes of locally caught small pelagic fish species, such as mackerel, are utilized as feed in the tuna farming industry in Malta, although most of the fish feed (pelleted or whole fish) is imported (FAO fishery country profile: Republic of Malta). Penned tuna are currently fed baitfish and the Maltese Ministry strategy currently recommends research into the development of alternative feeds to reduce reliance on other fish. There is, undoubtedly, a huge potential market for sustainable fish feed production to satisfy demand from the tuna farming industry; this would not only tackle the environmental problem of fish waste but also make the industry more profitable through savings from reduced imports. The project endeavours to exploit that demand with the feed formulations developed.