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  • Incorporation of Plant Proteins into Marine Finfish Feeds, a NWFSC-YSFRI Joint Study


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental and Fisheries Sciences EFS - Aquaculture


US China Alt Feeds Project
Incorporation of Plant Proteins into Marine Finfish Feeds, a NWFSC-YSFRI Joint Study
This international study is funded through the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology. The overall goal of the proposed research is to identify fishery by-product meals that will best facilitate the incorporation of soy and corn protein meals into marine fish feeds. It is well established that fish proteins are nutritious and valuable feed commodities. However, in many areas of the world, fish processors currently discard large quantities of fish protein as processing waste due to a lack of appropriate technologies to process these by-products. NWFSC and the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute (YSFRI) have independently developed unique industrial processes to produce by-product meals from fishery processing waste that are suitable ingredients for aquaculture feeds. These processes differ in their approach to digestion as the NWFSC process utilizes organic acids to digest tissue homogenates which is contrast to the enzymatic digestion utilized by the YSFRI process. In the past, NWFSC and YSFRI researchers have utilized processing waste from different fish species in their research. As such, it is uncertain how processing method effects protein functionality and structure, which meals may be best utilized by marine fish, and which meals can overcome the nutritional deficiencies inherent to plant proteins.

Research Themes

Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Effective fisheries management provides economic opportunities and ensures the long-term sustainability of fisheries and the habitats on which they depend. The NWFSC seeks to improve the quality and quantity of data used in stock assessments, the methods for assessing stocks and ecosystem sustainability within the context of human modification of the environment. The NWFSC also provides state-of-the-art science and technology to support aquaculture while protecting and maintaining ecosystem health. Further, pathogens, toxins from harmful algal blooms (HABs), chemical contaminants and other stressors of marine ecosystems pose significant risks to health of both seafood resources and to humans. The NWFSC focuses on research to improve understanding of those risks, how to forecast them, and identify means to mitigate their impacts.

Research Foci

Develop research and technology to foster innovative and sustainable approaches to aquaculture
The NOAA Aquaculture Policy calls for enabling sustainable aquaculture that provides domestic jobs, products, and services and that is in harmony with healthy, productive, and resilient marine ecosystems. To achieve these goals, NWFSC’s research examines scientific and technical issues to support aquaculture production. NWFSC research also considers potential impacts of aquaculture practices on the environment and on wild populations of fish and shellfish and methods for diminishing those impacts. Specific research objectives include (1) identify methods for reducing reliance on forage fish protein and oil in aquaculture feeds; this includes the evaluation of plant and microbe-based alternatives for fish meal and oil, because fishmeal and oil used in producing artificial fish diets is unsustainable and often a source of contaminants, (2) evaluate and model potential genetic impacts of aquaculture escapes on natural populations, (3) develop shellfish research that will support regional initiatives, such as the Washington Shellfish Initiative, especially native shellfish restoration and (4) develop new marine species for aquaculture and shore-based marine recirculating aquaculture systems.


Alternative feeds
Use of non-marine protein for aquaculture feeds
international collaboration
U.S.- Mexico collaboration


None associated


Species Anoplopoma fimbria


Pete Nicklason
Project Group Lead
Ronald Johnson
Principal Investigator