The world will be a very different place in the year 2050: the global population is projected to reach 9 billion; and as a result, approximately 50% more food will be needed to sustain the current quality of human life. Today's global consumption of seafood is rapidly increasing, while the amount provided by commercial fishing is steadily declining.
Fortunately, global aquaculture production has been increasing to meet this demand (and now surpasses capture fishing). It is predicted that, in the future, aquaculture will be the most reliable source of safe and nutritious seafood (Hixon, 2014).
"In a world where natural resources are being consumed at 50 times the replenishment rate, the future belongs to those who can manage elements of population growth, climate change, and food and energy security. Aquaculture has a huge role to play in the future where safe, nutritious, quality food is in demand and environmental sustainability is the key to life."
-Stefanie M. Hixon, 2014
Industry Approved by MBA Seafood Watch:
Since 1999, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has worked to raise public awareness about sustainable seafood issues and helped consumers and businesses choose seafood that's fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean, now and for future generations.
The MBA Seafood Watch program has conducted an industry-wide assessment of marine net pen Yellowtail (Seriola rivoliana and Seriola lalandi) aquaculture in Mexico including a thorough review of Omega Azul's sustainability practices (including water quality data, benthic analysis, feed, impacts on local marine life, and other key sustainability factors).
Their findings were then published and a Good Alternative rating was assigned for Yellowtail farmed in this manner.
Click here to read the full report.
Why rely on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program? Watch the video above to find out
We view sustainability through three primary lenses: Environmental, Economical, and Social. Each of these aspects are critical and one cannot exist without the other two - they are all intricately connected. Scroll down, or click one of the icons below to learn more about what makes our operation so sustainable.
Location, location, location...
"Appropriate site selection for net pens and cages is critical for the minimization of potential environmental impacts, optimal fish health and performance, worker safety and the minimization of production costs."
-Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008
This is why our farm is located in the remote, pristine waters of La Paz, Baja California South. The location was carefully planned so as to minimize impact on local environment, while also providing optimal conditions for fish health and growth. Strong cross sectional current distribution keeps the waters well circulated. This is important as high-energy exposed sites tend to reduce the risk of benthic deposition of wastes (Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008).
We have 2 sites which allows for a cage rotation & fallowing program.
"Simple fallowing involves the removal of the fish crop from the farm and leaving the net pens empty for some period of time. Site rotation uses fallowing but also includes moving pens to another location and farming in that location while the original location is fallowed. Site rotation and fallowing can be used to control pests or pathogens and to mitigate benthic impacts."
- Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008
CAGE ROATATION & FALLOWING
Wide open spaces. Baja Kanpachi is a fish that likes to move around - we make sure it has the space to do its thing and as a result, we have happier, healthier, and tastier fish.
Stocking density is very important in marine aquaculture and affects several critical operation aspects. Having a low stocking density provides the following benefits to our operation:
Local Environment: low stocking density reduces deposition of waste into benthic environment. The lower rate of waste production allows more time for dispersal by current, preserving benthos.
Fish Health: for large fish, like Baja Kanpachi®, sufficient space for exercise is required in order to build firm muscles (Nakada, 2002).
Fish Growth: if the stocking density exceeds the carrying capacity of the system, the full growth potential of the fish will not be realized. In other words, an optimum density is essential for economic production (Nakada, 2002).
LOW STOCKING DENSITY
We're watching for footprints... so far we haven't found any.
A primary concern for marine aquaculture operations is the potential impact to the local benthic (ocean floor) environment. That's why we take careful measures to ensure we minimize our footprint - this includes regular monitoring and sampling of the benthic environment to ensure that it is not being significantly disturbed. All of our sites meet government regulations for benthic impacts.
Give wild fish a chance... just not on your plate!
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): "At least half of the world's recognized fish stocks are fully exploited and 32% are over exploited or depleted." (Hixon, 2014)
Rapid population growth coupled with increases in fish consumption has resulted in sharp increases in global seafood demand. The recent expansion of the aquaculture industry has helped fill the gap and relieve pressure on capture fisheries (which continue to steadily decline) (Hixon, 2014).
By culturing Seriola rivoliana here in B.C.S., we are able to meet local demand while simultaneously relieving pressures put on wild stocks by fishing (Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008).
RELIEVING PRESSURES ON WILD STOCKS
Fish nutrition plays an integral role in fish health (see section on fish nutrition below).
Practicing good fish husbandry is critical for the health of the animal. If the fish fail to receive the proper care and attention, then they may become stressed which can negatively effect the quality of the flesh. It's also the ethical thing to do, as we believe all animals deserve to be treated with care.
Fish Health Program:
A critical subset of our fish husbandry practices includes our comprehensive fish health program (which has been implemented at all of our facilities). This program regularly tracts and monitors the health of our fish and is overseen by a small team of experienced animal healthcare professionals.
Healthy fish, healthy people. Baja Kanpachi is tenderly cared for throughout its entire life receiving the best in nutrition and advanced husbandry practices resulting in a robust, healthy fish.
Fish health is of the utmost importance, especially with regards to ethical practices, efficient production and consumer health.
Keep it natural. Baja Kanpachi® is 100% non-GMO and native to the waters in which its raised - meaning no surprises for you, or the environment.
Our Broodstock are locally sourced, wild genetic strains of Seriola rivoliana. There is no genetic tampering - our fish are 100% non-GMO. As Seriola rivoliana is native to the region its raised in, there is no threat of interbreeding or out-competing wild fish (should there ever be any escapes). We believe this to be the safest method of genetic sourcing when it comes to aquaculture (Hindar et al, 1991).
You are what you eat... you're also 'what you eat' eats.
Why is feed so important?
At Omega Azul, we firmly believe that a high quality feed makes for a high quality fish. Feed can confer numerous benefits - not just to the fish, but to the people that eat them; and to the environment that we live in (Hixon, 2014).
The following sections outline the importance of feed to our operation:
Proper nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining the normal growth and health of a fish. Good nutrition (i.e. all essential nutrients that are required in sufficient quantity to sustain normal health) can help mitigate the effects of stress, decrease the susceptibility to disease, and boost the immune system; therefore, a carefully formulated diet is critical in terms of stress and disease prevention. A deficiency in any required nutrient can adversely affect health by impairing metabolite functions and increasing susceptibility to disease (Hixon, 2014).
Beyond fish health, we must also consider the impact fish nutrition has on the consumer. The composition of the feed affects the final composition of the product: therefore, fish nutrition directly impacts consumers and must be considered in terms of feed safety and human nutrition. This is why our choice of feed supplier is so important (Hixon, 2014).
Winners don't use drugs. Baja Kanpachi® is a clean fish free of antibiotics, hormones, or steroids.
As demand for aquaculture products rises, a large number of the world's aquaculture systems continue to intensify cultivation methods - including the use of feeds containing antibiotics (Sapkota et al, 2008). This can prevent disease and can even assist growth but it has several critical drawbacks:
Human Safety: risk to consumers. Farmers and workers routiely come into contact with antibiotics and most are unaware of the health risks associated with these exposures (Sapkota et al, 2008).
Environmental Safety: prolific use of antibiotics can result in antibiotic residue collecting in the surrounding environment (e.g. sediment). This can have a negative effect on local flora and fauna.
Fish Health: overuse of antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
NO ANTIBIOTICS, HORMONES, OR STEROIDS ADDED
A common concern people have when consuming large pelagic fish is the potential for mercury in the flesh. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about mercury in Baja Kanpachi (it has no detectable levels of mercury).
That's because in the wild, mercury is acquired through the diet (i.e. by eating smaller fish with mercury in them); whereas our Baja Kanpachi® are fed nutritious, safe, pelleted feed that is mercury free.
"The most effective way to reduce the potential environmental impact of net pens and cages is feed management."
-Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008
Effective feed management is based on two components: waste reduction and optimal feed conversion ratio. Waste reduction focuses on ensuring that feed used by the farm is not lost or discharged prior to intake by the fish. Optimal conversion focuses on ensuring that all feed intake offered to the fish is actually consumed and optimally digested and utilized by the fish (Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008).
In order to implement effective feed management we carefully monitor and track fish during feeding to ensure that as little feed goes to waste as possible.
Fish nutrition and feeding practices are active areas of research, and technology is constantly evolving. An important research goal is to improve the efficiency of nutrient utilization by fish, thereby enhancing economic returns and reducing waste production (Tucker and Hargreaves, 2008). Other research has focused on functional constituents in feeds to improve growth, feed efficiency, health status, stress tolerance and resistance to disease (Hixon, 2014). We are fortunate enough to have a feed supplier with their own in-house research and development team that continue to discover new and innovative ways to improve feed efficiency.
Waste not, want not. With an FCR of 1.4 : 1.0, Baja Kanpachi® is an efficient, sustainable fish that takes a little, but gives a lot.
A feed conversion ratio (FCR) describes the amount of feed that a livestock animal must consume in order to gain a specific amount of body weight. This ratio is typically expressed as x : 1.0 (where x represents the weight of feed).
Seriola rivoliana is a
with the average feed
conversion ratio (FCR)
being about 1.4 : 1.0
(Grubman J.S., 2014). This means a 1.0kg yield of fish for every 1.4kg of feed used.
Compare to other livestock:
Chicken - 1.9 : 1.0
Pork - 2.9 : 1.0
Beef - 6.8 : 1.0
Our Baja Kampachi are fed high quality diets manufactured by EWOS Canada.
"Reducing the marine dependence, using more fish trimmings, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
EWOS is a great company with a strong commitment to sustainability and environmentally sound practices.
EWOS feed is made under the stringent controls of several international standards, including:
EWOS Canada demonstrates its commitment to ethics and sustainability along the entire value chain through:
- Responsibly selecting raw materials from sustainable sources.
- Formulating and producing nutritionally balanced feeds that enhance efficient use of fish meal and fish oil.
- Employing ethical and eco-friendly processes and materials.
For more information on the feed we use, please visit:
OUR FEED SUPPLIER
FEED CONVERSION RATIO
Marine Resources In Feed:
"Marine raw materials are still used in feeds, but at a much lower inclusion than before. Responsible sourcing of these materials is key and various requirements have been set for suppliers."
-EWOS Sustainability Report, 2015
In 2015, EWOS had decreased its marine raw materials (sum of fish meal and fish oil) to just 27%. It had also increased its use of timmings to 30%.
Our use of marine resources:
Given that it takes 1.4kg of feed to yield 1.0kg of Seriola rivoliana; and, the feeds we use contain an average of 41% marine resources (FM + FO), then:
(1.4kg feed consumed/1.0kg fish yield) x (0.41)
= 0.574kg marine resouces (FM + FO) consumed per 1.0kg of fish yielded.
In other words, for every 4.0kg of marine resources our fish consume, we produce 7.0kg of fish!
EWOS Marine Index - Sustainability Report 2015. Digital Image. EWOS.com
EWOS Trimmings Index - Sustainability Report 2015. Digital Image. EWOS.com
With a Fish-In, Fish-Out (FIFO) ratio less than half that of farmed salmon, Baja Kanpachi® can be enjoyed guilt-free knowing you're minimizing your impact on wild fish populations.
One of the long continued debates in aquaculture is the use of fishmeal and fish oil in feeds and the amount of wild fish it takes to produce farmed fish. The debate has particularly raged around the use of fish oil and fishmeal in salmon diets and a lot of different figures have been quoted for the number of tonnes of wild fish it takes to produce a tonne of farmed fish (FIFO ratio).
For Baja Kanpachi®, the FIFO ratio is:
FIFO Ratio =
(% fishmeal in diet) + (% fish oil in diet)
(% yield of fishmeal) + (% yield of fish oil)
(0.30) + (0.11)
(0.22) + (0.12)
x (1.4 : 1.0)
1.6 : 1.0
Compared to other aquaculture species:
2.2 : 1.0
1.9 : 1.0
2.9 : 1.0
*FIFO Ratios from the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO).
REDUCING MARINE DEPENDENCY
FISH-IN, FISH-OUT RATIO
A benefit of having complete control over the production cycle is that we can produce as much or as little fish as we want. Controlling our volume output means we don't have to worry about squandering resources (by producing too much) or failing to meet demand (by producing too little).
Seriola rivoliana is a species which can be induced to spawn year-round. This type of production schedule allows for more consistent order intake and revenue. It also allows us to service a broader range of customers as many industries require this type of availability (e.g. restaurants that want to maintain a consistent menu throughout the year).
SHIPPING & LOGISTICS
We are located close to key U.S. markets and have access to an array of convenient shipping routes throughout North America.
Our close relationships with our shipping and logistics companies ensure consistent service at competitive rates.
We always utilize vehicles with refrigeration units - maintaining the cold chain througout.
As we mentioned earlier, feed plays a very important role in our operations. Feed accounts for approximately 50% of any given aquaculture operation's costs; and so it is absolutely crucial for economic survival that the feed is efficiently converted into flesh. This is directly correlated with the FCR:
FE = (weight gain)/(feed intake) = (1.0kg weight gain)/(1.4kg feed intake) = 71.4% Feed Efficiency
Again, relative to other livestock:
Chicken FE = (1.0kg)/(1.9kg) = 52.6% Feed Efficiency
Pork FE = (1.0kg)/(2.9kg) = 34.5% Feed Efficiency
Beef FE = (1.0kg)/(6.8kg) = 14.7% Feed Efficiency
The advantages with regards to feed efficiency are clear - Baja Kanpachi® is, by far, the superior livestock when it comes to converting feed into flesh.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY
The safety and well being of our employees is our top priority. A comprehensive occupational health and safety program is in place for all of our facilities.
Omega Azul could not exist without its amazing and dedicated staff - the majority of which, are local residents of La Paz. The company provides meaningful employment and the chance to develop lifelong career skills and knowledge in the aquaculture sector. As the company grows we continue to offer more lucrative job opportunities which will further enrich the local community.
HUMANE HARVEST METHOD
All of our fish are harvested using Ikejime methods that minimize pain and suffering to the animal. This makes sense not only from an ethical standpoint, but from a commercial standpoint as well (if an animal endures stress during slaughter then the quality of the meat will be negatively affected).
What is Ikejime?
Ikejime (活け締め) or Ikijime (活き締め) is a humane method of killing fish
to maintain the quality of its meat. The technique originated in Japan, but
is now in widespread use. It involves the insertion of a spike quickly and directly into the hindbrain, usually located slightly behind and above the eye, thereby causing immediate brain death. When spiked correctly, the fish fins flare and the fish relaxes, immediately ceasing all motion. Destroying the brain and the spinal cord of the fish will prevent reflex action from happening; such muscle movements would otherwise consume adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the muscle, and as a result produce lactic acid and ammonia, making the fish sour, soggy and less tasteful. Furthermore, the blood contained in the fish flesh retracts to the gut cavity, which produces a better coloured and flavoured fillet, and prolongs shelf life. This method is considered to be the fastest and most humane method of killing fish. Ikejime-killed fish is sought-after by restaurants as it also allows the fish to develop more umami when aged.
Ikejime has been successfully used manually in the tuna and yellowtail industries, along with limited use in sport and game fishing, as it provides a rapid slaughter technique. An alternative to cutting their throats and leaving the fish to die by bleeding, ikejime is used and the fish put straight into ice.