This series provides insights into the global array of companies participating in this challenge as innovators or sponsors.
The 10th of this Spotlight Series focuses on USSEC, the lead sponsor of this program. In the coming days leading to the grand Finale on the 7th of October, we will profile the other innovations and sponsors of this challenge.
USSEC spurs aquaculture innovation.
(Saint Louis, MO, USA) Auburn University aquaculture expert and professor Jesse Chappell’s work with Alabama catfish farms led him to a simple yet elegant solution that is boosting the sustainability and profitability of fish farming: turns a basic aquaculture pond into a more-like-nature recirculating system complete with raceways, automatic feeders, and fish sludge collectors.
Chappell’s breakthrough concept, known as an In-Pond Raceway System (IPRS), was successfully trialed at a fish farm near Shanghai a few years ago. Since then, hundreds of fish farms across China -- the world’s top aquaculture nation by production and value -- have adopted the system on a commercial scale.
The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), an organization representing US soybean farmers, the food and agriculture industry, and transportation industry that promotes the use of US soy for human consumption, aquaculture, and livestock feed across the world, recognized the potential of IPRS when Chappell was still conducting pilot studies in Alabama. USSEC is now promoting IPRS in other parts of Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South America through its global network of local representatives that engage with the aquaculture industry, universities, government and non-profit organizations.
“We are always innovating and looking for something new to educate and enable the industry,” USSEC CEO Jim Sutter said. “If I think about IPRS several years ago, and through the insights of our aquaculture experts, they recognized the opportunity to advance industry growth and sustainability, and it has really come to fruition. We’re looking for the next thing.”
“Innovations that address consumer needs and concerns about the sustainability of aquaculture farming practices will help the industry flourish because seafood is generally viewed as a healthy food source. As long as the aquaculture industry can continue to proactively address these expectations about sustainability, I think it has immense potential to help meet the world’s nutritional and food security needs as an affordable and sustainable source of protein, and has a great future,” Sutter said.
IPRS is a good example of that goal. The concept disrupted the traditional aquaculture pond practices used in China for thousands of years by introducing a constant water current 24 hours a day through a raceway channel system with a built-in waste removal structure. The latter is a big plus when marketing farmed fish to consumers worried about food safety. The flowing water element is designed to mimic natural river flow.
While USSEC has pitched soy as a feed source to a broad spectrum of animal protein industries for decades, its focus has shifted to aquaculture in recent years owing to the sector’s rapid growth. U.S. soybeans are considered a sustainable form of high quality protein and are certified under the Sustainable Soybean Assurance Protocol (SSAP) that received the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) qualification status from the Global Seafood Alliance.
USSEC is working on several initiatives that could become the next IPRS success story including the International Aquaculture Feed Formulation Database (IAFFD). Through this database, the USSEC is fostering the emergence of alternative feed ingredients to make the aquaculture industry more sustainable and teaching the industry about low-cost but complete and balanced feed formulation principles. The council is candid about its goal of promoting U.S. soy utilization but its mission statement also includes serving the greater good of feeding humanity, a mission to which aquaculture will greatly contribute.
More broadly, USSEC is committed to supporting innovators who offer unique solutions to the major challenges facing the aquaculture industry. That is one reason why the council was a principal sponsor of The Yield Lab Asia Pacific's Global Aquaculture Challenge 2021, Sutter said.
“We think it’s just a really great way to help advance growth and sustainability in the industry, so we are very happy to partner with The Yield Lab and to promote innovation in the aquaculture industry,” he said.
1 Oct 2021.
Matt Craze and Oriana Aguillon, Spheric Research.