Sparsholt College has a long history of research and collaboration with the UK’s aquaculture industry, and its new £5000,000 unit, opened in 2012, is providing realistic, commercial-standard facilities for the next generation of aquaculturists. Sparsholt’s current ground-breaking R&D trial has huge commercial implications. Presently, farmed fish such as salmon and trout are fed largely carnivorous diets rich in fish oil and fishmeal, which are derived from caught wild fish. With 2kg of wild fish required to produce just 1kg of farmed fish, the inefficiency of the system is only too apparent. Using Sparsholt’s state-of-the art, gravity-fed experimental tanks, all supplied with firstuse borehole water, the team has, in partnership with feed manufacturer Skretting, tested vegetarian diets and demonstrated that this ratio can be reduced to 0.75kg of wild fish to 1kg trout. Other commercial research undertaken at the facility ranges from feed formulation and growth rates, pharmaceutical products, dietary pigments and feed additives, and breeding, re-stocking, aquacultural equipment and husbandry strategies. The unit also incorporates a laboratory and small-scale commercial aquaculture division that is producing and processing table fish. Its educational research facilities at undergraduate and postgraduate level are supporting high-flyers, as well as the work of the Environment Agency and local fishery in their re-stocking and breeding programmes. These results of this and other trials at Sparsholt will have enormous impact on the future sustainability of aquaculture and global stocks of wild fish more generally.


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