Cheap, Safe Fish Meal a Derivative of Natural Gas Fracking


Credit: Richard Dorrell / CC BY-SA 2.0

Methylococcus capsulatus is a type of bacteria that is able to utilize the gas methane as a source of energy. Fish farmers cultivate this bacterium on natural gas, with some ammonia and minerals added to create high-quality protein feed for fish. Fortunately, fishes such as salmon are not finicky eaters so they will happily consume pelletized protein made from these bacteria. 

The idea of feeding farmed salmon with the protein made from methane was first introduced to the Statoil, a Norwegian oil and gas company. Although America has yet to accept the mode, the EU and Norway have approved the use of Methylococcus-based fishmeal.

Calysta, a biotechnology firm based in Menlo Park, California has thought of taking advantage of the rock-bottom price of methane, a by-product of natural gas fracking. They have introduced methanotrophs as fish food for fish farmers using a bacterium-based biotechnology that doesn’t play around with the bug’s genes to increase yields. Calysta has understood the fears behind GMO foods. Instead, they have made the life of the bacterium as comfortable as possible. FeedKind™ Protein was announced on Earth Day 2015 and it will be commercially available to aquaculture sectors in 2018.

Dr. Alan Shaw feels that Calysta’s product is a good substitute to soya-based fishmeal, which is known to inflame the fishes’ guts. Calysta is confident of producing 8,000 tonnes of bacterial fish food a year per reactor, at below $2,000 a tonne, which is the price at which fishmeal now sells.

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