Putting it all together by Roy Palmer, Association of International Seafood Professionals
ack in the 13th century, maybe even earlier, it has been recorded that when people travelled in Europe they were often given dried seaweed on arrival at their destination to nourish them after their tiring efforts.
Whilst western society ignored that, history countries like China, Japan and Korea did not. In those countries you can browse the multitude of supermarkets and food shops and see all the different preparations, processes, species and packaging of seaweed - this is an increasing and expanding business. It has been known for a long time that algae are one of the keys to excellent nutrition of fish/seafood and why species have vital essential fats and vitamins which are not only good for them but also for multiple benefits to human health when we eat fish/seafood. We know that land animals cannot get close to the level of crucial omega-3 content of even the smallest levels in fish/seafood and as the world moves to healthier nutrition it is expected that seafood will be the food of choice. At present, algae is mainly used as an ingredient in functional food, that is, food that bring health benefits greater than the simple provision of basic nutrients. There are some moves by ‘fashion trend’ chefs to include salads containing seaweed and this may filter through to main outlets in western world. In Japan the Ulva species of algae is well known and highly regarded as a flavoring agent and as a part of a healthful diet. One aquaculture company has done many years of research and planning and is now getting ready for its next phase and putting it all together.
Aonori Aquafarms, Inc. is a land-based aquaculture operation producing Ulva (a species of seaweed named Ulva clathrata) and shrimp (Farfantepenaeus californiensis – Pacific Brown) for protein and food production in Mexico, although the headquarters are located in San Diego, California, US. The Company had a research farm in Sinaloa Mexico from 1998 to 2008 and, in a second phase, the Company operated a small-scale farm and hatchery based in Mexico at San Quintin, Baja California with an infrastructure consisting of 16 ponds operating a total pond area of 3.0 hectares, located only 180 miles from San Diego, California. During this time, the Company achieved two years of successful sales to Safeway and other buyers. Ponds are set back from the shore and built on flat, salinized land so that no harm is done to sensitive habitats such as mangroves or estuaries, where traditional farms are located. The facility produced 6 tons of shrimp each year (head-off) and Ulva meal samples, having made its first shrimp sale on December 2012. The Company has now developed a proprietary biomimetic technology that reproduces the natural marine habitat of shrimp, which goes by the name of NatureFarming™, creating a shrimp/Ulva co-culture environment. The shrimp are fed with Ulva, leaving approximately 60 percent of the Ulva in each pond to be commercialised in various forms such a salt substitute, high value food or feed ingredient, nutraceutical or as a roasted seaweed snack. Aonori claims to be the first successfully integrated multi-species aquaculture company to produce brown shrimp and algae with a new and unique patented process. The Company has developed a method
18 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | November-December 2015