Most farmers resort to fish-protein when raising fish. This has been problematic over the years because it has caused intense competition for sources of fishmeal among farmers and even consumers. This high competition leads to higher fish prices for everyone. Naturally, many researchers are looking into alternative forms of fishmeal, such as soy-based protein. However, using soy-based protein also presents problems since soy meal is not particularly nutritious, and soy-based products are already in high demand among consumers. In response to this fishmeal crisis, Dr Tanga Mbi, of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, has been training farmers to use local insects as fishmeal, and to great results.
In the past, researchers have attempted to use bone meal, or blood meal from livestock in order to keep the price of feeding fish low. However, there are many problems that could arise from the use of such materials, such as mad cow disease and other zoonotic diseases. Luckily, many types of insects have higher protein levels than fish, and these types of insects would be ideal as animal feed. In fact, some aquatic insects that feed on phytoplankton have even higher fatty-acid levels that are comparable to fish.
Many insects that feed on mammalian waste products also contain high fatty-acid levels. For example, black soldier flies, house fly pupae and dung beetles. Black soldier fly larvae, and houseflies help to convert organic waste into body mass and they also help to reduce the levels of dangerous animal bacteria from finding its way into grocery stores.
Crickets possess higher protein levels than fish, and crickets can reach adulthood quickly, which makes them ideal as an ingredient in fishmeal. Crickets also produce much less greenhouse gas when compared to other animals that are raised in order to be used in fishmeal. Black soldier flies, the common house fly, the yellow mealworm, the lesser mealworm, silkworm, crickets and grasshoppers can all be used to create more sustainable and less environmentally damaging forms of fish meal.
Do you think that raising insects for use in fishmeal would be relatively easier than using other fish? Would fish prices go down for consumers if fishmeal manufacturers no longer competed for fish?