Farm Focus: An Asian delicacy raised feed-free

Photo: Joan Bardeletti

Photo: Joan Bardeletti

By Avani Nadkarni

Time and time again, fish farmers say feed costs are among the biggest expense of aquaculture -- but Aqua-Spark's latest investment, Madagascar sea cucumber farm Indian Ocean Trepang, has managed to cut the expense out altogether.

"It's very sustainable farming," Aqua-Spark Co-Founder Mike Velings told IntraFish. "You don't need to feed the animal, it's a filter feeder that basically filters sand and eats bacteria and algae from the sand until it grows to market size." It's also good environmentally, Indian Ocean Trepang CEO Thibault Giulioli told IntraFish.

"They feed themselves on the organic waste and reject minerals," he explained. "There are microalgae that would grow on the surface of the sea floor that would generate organic materials, and bacteria and microalgae is reproduced by photosynthesis."

While sea cucumbers aren't exactly a hot commodity in western markets, they are considered a delicacy in parts of Asia, Velings said. In fact, the vast majority of Indian Ocean Trepang's product is shipped to China. In addition, "sea cucumbers are endangered and heavily overfished," he said.

To read the remainder of this story, visit IntraFish, the global leader in aquaculture and fish farming news.