Norwegian company C-Feed has built the world’s first industrial plant for copepods, which are tiny crustaceans that can be used to feed young fish in aquaculture.
The new plant, located in Trondheim, Norway, uses unique technology developed by research organization SINTEF.
The copepods will be used as live feed for fry of ballan wrasse, tuna, lobster, halibut and other marine species. Until now, companies have been unsuccessful in cultivating new species, and the fry stage is often the problem because a large proportion die during the early phase of production.
Salmon can eat dry feed from the first day, but saltwater species need live start feed.
"Until now, cultivating tuna has been an extremely demanding, not to say impossible, process. Our copepods have turned out to be very suitable as baby food for fry, and we believe that tuna could represent a major market for us, since tuna are in great demand with sushi enthusiasts all over the world," C-Feed CEO Rune Bjerke said.
SINTEF so far has produced copepods on a small scale, but will increase production when the plant opens this fall.
“We are greatly looking forward to making the jump from small-scale production to the industrialization of copepod cultivation,” Bjerke said.
Ballan wrasse are in demand in Norway because they eat sea lice that live on the skin of salmon held in fish cages and are very effective in combatting the lice.
“The production of fish-feed for ballan wrasse farmers could become our largest market in Norway,” Bjerke said.
The venture brought in NOK13 million (US$1.7 million) in new capital and has an estimated annual market potential of NOK2 billion.