Navigating the Surge in Aquaculture: Opportunities & Challenges

April 24, 2024 - By: Baystreet Staff

USA News Group – The way we get our food is in need of a dramatic overhaul, with domestic food inflation remaining high across the globe. However, one aspect of the world’s food supply that’s set for growth is fish farming, better known in the industry as aquaculture. According to Rabobank’s projections aquaculture is giving the market plenty to be optimistic about ahead in 2024—and in particular salmon. Analysts at EMR have noted that the global fish farming market reached ~US$306.9 billion in 2023, and is on a path to grow to around US$504.8 billion by 2032. With such growth projected ahead, there are many moving parts which need to be addressed, most notably coming from the biotech and agricultural market’s developers, including BioVaxys Technology Corp. (CSE:BIOV) (OTC:BVAXF), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Zoetis Inc. (NYSE:ZTS), Corteva, Inc. (NYSE:CTVA), and Bunge Global SA (NYSE:BG).

Normally known for its work with humans, BioVaxys Technology Corp.(CSE:BIOV) (OTC:BVAXF) recently announced the launch of a field trial for large-scale immunocontraception in the commercial aquatic farming industry with partners SpayVac. Having partnered with an unnamed world leader in the aquaculture space, SpayVac has licensed technology from BioVaxys to field test single-injection, long-lasting immunocontraceptive vaccines in farmed rainbow trout.

“We are excited at the recent progress of our licensee, SpayVac-for-Wildlife, Inc., in advancing its fish immunocontraception research,” said James Passin, CEO of BioVaxys. “The global market for farmed fish is estimated to exceed $306,000,000,000. We look forward to continuing to support the important work of our partner SpayVac in the field of animal fertility vaccines.”

In the fish farming industry, controlling the reproduction of fish is very important. As female fish grow older, they use more of their energy to make eggs instead of growing bigger, which means they don't gain as much weight. Also, if fish raised on farms get out and mix with wild fish, they can have babies that might not do well in the wild. To handle these issues, farmers can use methods to either stop fish from reproducing or make them sterile, so they don't have these problems.

At the core of this joint effort, SpayVac utilizes a patented liposome-based antigen delivery platform technology licensed from BioVaxys, and has already demonstrated a robust and sustainable response in several species. Initial research field trials were started this spring in the Pacific Northwest.

“We’ve been focused on developing vaccines to help manage free-ranging populations of animals like horses and deer, so this is an exciting new venture for us”, said Dr. Bechert, Vice President of Research and Development for SpayVac-for-Wildlife, Inc. In addition to fish farming, SpayVac are also working on introducing birth control vaccines for deer, horses, and other animals. These vaccines, which are gentle and animal-friendly, use the same advanced technology that SpayVac has licensed from BioVaxys.

Not wanting to be left out of the aquaculture boom, pharma giant Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire the aqua business of Elanco Animal Health for $1.3 billion in cash, thus strengthening its portfolio of aquatic pet and livestock health products under its Merck Animal Health subsidiary. Expected to be completed by mid-2024, is set to help Merck gain access to DNA-based vaccine Clynav, which protects Atlantic salmon against pancreas disease, and Imvixa, an anti-parasitic sea lice treatment.

“We are excited for the acquisition of Elanco’s aqua products, solutions, as well as the capabilities and expertise the team brings to our business,” said Rick DeLuca, President of Merck Animal Health in a release. “We believe this acquisition, coupled with our commercial and scientific prowess, will deliver enhanced benefits for our aqua customers.”

The move comes less than 5 years since Merck’s animal health unit acquired fish health product maker Scan Aqua and fish conservation monitoring equipment makers Vaki and Antelliq Corp in 2019.

On the back of a new vaccine launch in Norway, Zoetis Inc. (NYSE:ZTS) saw an uptick in sales for its fish portfolio, as per its Q4 2023 earnings results. Under its subsidiary Pharmaq (which it acquired in 2015 for $765 million), Zoetis assumes the role as a global leader in vaccine development and innovation for aquaculture. Back in 2020, Zoetis also added to its Pharmaq portfolio by acquiring Fish Vet Group from Benchmark Holdings, PLC.

“Raising healthy fish to meet the demands of our growing global population while respecting the environment is critical for a healthier, more sustainable future,” said Rob Kelly, Executive Vice President and President of International Operations, for Zoetis. “Innovative fish health management tools, across the continuum of care and including vaccines and diagnostic testing, will help us better meet the needs of our customers.”

While humans work to secure their own food security, efforts are being made to increase production of valuable proteins for animal feed, including aquaculture. Recently, Protein Industries Canada announced an initiative involving a $31 million investment that includes the help of both Corteva, Inc. (NYSE:CTVA) and Bunge Global SA (NYSE:BG). The project targets supporting the commercialization of a high-protein canola meal for use in the aquaculture, feed and food sectors as well as improve sunflower protein characteristics for a wide range of plant-based food applications.

“Projects like this demonstrate how Protein Industries Canada and its project partners are positioning Canada as a leader in sustainable food and feed production,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “By developing higher-quality feed and food ingredients from canola and sunflower meal, and helping bring them to market, this project will foster new economic opportunities and create more jobs for Canadians.”

As per the project’s initiatives, Corteva and Botaneco are the project’s leading collaborators and will work with Bunge and Northeast Nutrition to introduce and test canola meal in end-use feed rations.

This is not the first time that Corteva and Bunge have worked together on an initiative to bolster aqua feed. Back in March of 2023, the duo teamed up to develop amino acid enhanced soybeans, meant for the animal feed industry, including aqua feed. The mission was to give feed compounders a new option to reduce their use of synthetic additives, to lower costs, and shrink their carbon footprint.

“Over-expressing methionine and lysine will make soybean meal an even better ingredient for feed application,” said Kaleb Belzer, VP, protein ingredients for Bunge.

Together, Corteva and Bunge expect to see their enriched bean varieties on the market before 2030. The next step along the way is to bring these higher-protein, enhanced-amino acid profile assets into a commercial soybean variety.

Article Source: [JC2]



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