Production of Atlantic salmon and Rainbow trout is considered more sustainable compared to production of beef, pork, sheep and other animal based proteins. The reason is that animal based proteins are more discharge intensive because of the methane gas they produce.
The CO2 footprint of Fish (average) is about 3,49 kg Co2-EQ/kg compared to beef at 26,61 kg Co2 -EQ/kg. Farmed Atlantic salmon have even a lower Eco fotprint of 3,3 kg co2 – EQ/kg (Ref: Sintef 2017).
To reduce our overall emissions and trap excess nutrients such as Nitrogen, phosphor and carbon from our salmon and trout production Lerøy, in partnership with NGO Belona Holding AS, started a joint venture, Ocean Forest, to produce macro algae, blue mussels and polychaeta at near several of our farming sites. In addition to trap CO2 and absorb excess nutrients from the farming operations, especially the blue mussels, but also the sugar kelp are good sources of sustainable proteins and other health benefitting nutrients.
Ocean Forest has conducted two studies of fermented kelp in feed for ruminants in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen. The first study is an in vitro study, in which the methane gas production in the stomach of dairy cows is added to various fermented kelp products. The measurements showed up to a 45% reduction in methane gas production using fermented kelp.
The second experiment was performed on calves. The calves could choose freely between 4 different diets with 0 to 5% fermented kelp added. The feed with the highest content of fermented kelp was clearly most sought after by the animals.
The studies in Denmark have shown that fermented kelp can be an important new ingredient in feed to land animals to reduced their emissions of methane gas by 30-40 % (Hansen et al, In prep) when adding Sugar kelp to their diet. Ocean Forest sold most of the production of sugar kelp in 2020 as a new ingredient for animal feed.
Using blue mussel meal instead of fish meal has also shown to be an excellent replacement as shown in the EU funded project Holofood. We therefore started an inhouse R&D project with one of the major Feed companies to see if blue mussel meal is viable commercially.
We also include 1,5 – 2 % insect flour in all our freshwater feed as a replacement for fish meal. From a nutritional point of view its considered a high quality and sustainable protein source, but its highly expensive to use.
The growth potential of this business venture are far greater than what we produce today, and what we will be able to produce in a long while. Today we have blue mussel and sugar kelp production at 7 locations (5 sugar kelp locations and 2 blue mussel locations). We produced 150 tons of sugar kelp (1,5 ton protein) in 2020, and estimate a significant increase in production volume in 2021 and 2022.
Our goal is to one day have the knowledge, technology and the Customer base to extend this production setup to a major part of our farming sites, producing more sustainable marine and plant proteins. We are also committed to continue educating the public about the benefits of a diet consisting of marine proteins, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and other health benefiting nutrients. Doing so, we are confident that the human consumption of these sustainable proteins will increase in the future.