Transitioning to Sustainable Aquaculture: Looking Both Below and Above the Water is Key

In Brief
  • Sustainable aquaculture depends in part on what happens above the water, from retail to the consumer.
  • Tackling food loss and waste and antimicrobial resistance are key challenges facing the aquaculture industry.
  • The right nutrients and additives can improve shelf life of fish and shrimp, reduce likelihood of antimicrobial resistance and enhance taste and texture of end products.

Expanding the role of aquaculture to end hunger and malnutrition is as important as increasing production. At DSM, we are committed to driving sustainable production in the aquaculture industry while we support producers in maximizing the productivity of their operations.

To paint a clear picture of challenges and opportunities in aquaculture, we think of water as an imaginary line which separates what lives above and below its surface, defining three dimensions: above water, water, below water. By addressing DSMs key sustainability and business platforms, including reducing food loss and waste, we support the above water dimension meaning the impact of aquaculture products on the consumer. Naturally, what happens below the water affects consumers as well, and helping tackle antimicrobial resistance is part of our mission and commitment.

Reducing food loss and waste

Although sufficient calories are produced to feed the global population, too many people are still hungry and malnourished. In addition to uneven food distribution, food loss and waste plays a major role in the problem. Food loss happens between production and sale, for example, when fresh produce does not sell because it doesn’t meet consumer standards of shape, size and color. Food waste occurs between the point of sale and consumer consumption, for instance, if a product spoils before it can be eaten. Each year, approximately 14% off food is lost and an estimated 17% is wasted, resulting in more than 1 billion tons of food that is thrown in the trash (UN, 2021).

In addition to increasing food availability, reducing food loss and waste can help alleviate poverty and reduce the pressure on ecosystems, climate and water. Reducing food loss and waste is one of DSM’s commitments. We signed on to Target 12.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to reduce food loss and waste by 50% by 2030. Less food loss and waste would lead to more efficient land use and better water resource management with positive impacts on climate change and livelihoods.

Reducing spoilage and increasing end product quality are two of the ways we can help the aquaculture industry minimize food loss and waste. Microbial spoilage and oxidation change the odor, flavor and texture of fish and shrimp. Enhancing final product quality therefore becomes necessary to increase shelf life and maintain nutritional value, making it good for the consumer, the producer and the planet. This is achieved through increasing the levels of vital micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals and omega-3 EPA and DHA in aquaculture feed.  Several essential vitamins, such as vitamin C and E, significantly extend the shelf life of products through improved oxidative stability. For example, optimum levels of vitamin E in the fillet can reduce oxidation by up to 25%.

“Optimum levels of vitamin E in the fillet can reduce oxidation by up to 25%, significantly extending shelf life.”

Optimum Omega Nutrition™ (OONTM) by Veramaris® is a guideline for meeting EPA and DHA Omega-3 and ARA Omega-6 requirements, while also maintaining the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in salmon diets (Santigosa et al. 2021, 2022). Farmers benefit from their investment in OONTM through improved fish health, product quality and yield but also through continuing to decouple reliance on limited supplies of certified sustainable marine resources.

Color is a key visual element for the final consumer, and it is associated with health, quality and premium products. Achieving the correct pigmentation in salmonids, shrimp and other marine species is also crucial to minimize downgrading along the value chain and meet customer demands. Our Carophyll® Pink solutions deliver consistent pigmentation, maximizing product quality and reducing downgrades and food loss and waste. Since the mid-eighties, DSM has set the industry standard for carotenoids, leading in innovation for both product development and colour measurement across the whole value chain around the world. SalmoFan™ and SalmoFan™ Lineal set the industry standard for measuring color in salmonids for more than 25 years and new technologies are being developed to digitize the language of color and allow the industry to maximize its value. ShrimpFan™ Lineal has recently been launched to allow the shrimp industry to monitor and improve color in shrimp. In addition, Veramaris® algal oil and high levels of omega-3 EPA & DHA in the diet can help to reduce downgrades caused by melanin spotting and poor pigmentation.

“Achieving the correct pigmentation in salmonids, shrimp and other marine species is crucial to minimize downgrading along the value chain and meet customer demands.”

Helping tackle antimicrobial resistance

The World Health Organization cites antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as an increasingly serious threat to global public health, and implementation of coordinated action plans across all levels of society is vital. Antibiotic use in animal protein production is recognized as one of the drivers in AMR and a risk factor to human and environmental health (FAO, 2019). If no action is taken, AMR could lead to 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 (WHO, 2019). Furthermore, environmental, social and corporate Governance (ESG) investors are increasingly concerned about the use of antibiotics in farming and are pressuring animal protein producers to minimize their use (FAIRR, 2021).

The aquaculture sector has developed rapidly over the past decades, and sustainability of the industry is a key development focus. There are already success stories that we can learn from. The Norwegian salmon industry, which in 2019 produced 1.3 million tons salmon, has almost eradicated the use of antibiotics in the last two decades. In 2019 it achieved a significant milestone: 99% of salmon was produced without antibiotics – the lowest level of antibiotic use per unit of animal protein in the world. However, in other aquaculture industries where there has been less success with vaccines and biosecurity measures for specific diseases, the use of antibiotics is still necessary. In Norway, use of effective vaccines, farm management, biosecurity, genetics, health management, optimal nutrition and functional feeds have played a key role in achieving this milestone. At DSM, we believe it is possible to enable the aquaculture industry to significantly reduce the use of antibiotics across other geographies and species.

“In 2019 Norway achieved a significant milestone: 99% of salmon was produced without antibiotics.”

We play a key role in providing solutions for animal production that mitigate the risk of AMR by supporting Optimum Vitamin NutritionTM (OVNTM), improving gut health and strengthening the immune defences of fish and shrimp. OVNTM targets feeding animals high quality vitamins in the right amounts and in ratios appropriate to their life stage and growing conditions (Liu et al. 2022a, 2022b). To support the industry, we are fully engaged in research and development and focus on partnering with important stakeholders – leading scientists, universities, genetics companies, independent research institutes and customers. This enables us to develop and produce a complete offering of high-quality vitamins and support the feed industry with the DSM Vitamin Supplementation Guidelines.

Our eubiotic solutions improve gut health in both fish and shrimp. By increasing immune defence, disease resistance and supporting the animal through adverse environmental conditions, we help the industry improve survival by up to 30%. Extensive documentation has been generated for our Rovimax® (nucleotides), Biotronic® (organic acids), Digestarom® (essential oils) and AquaStar® (probiotics), Levabon® (autolysed yeast) enabling consistent improvement in survival and performance in both cold water and warm water species.

“By increasing immune defence, disease resistance and supporting the animal through adverse environmental conditions, we can help the industry improve survival by up to 30%.”


To be successful and sustainable, it’s important to deliver superior products to the end consumer including premium product quality, extended shelf life, optimum color and optimal nutritional values. For the sake of both current and future generations, it’s also crucial to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production to address antimicrobial resistance.

Aquaculture is uniquely positioned to be one of the driving forces needed to address these challenges. Together, we can ensure that aquaculture has the maximum positive impact for the for people and planet.


FAO (2019) FAO Aquaculture Newsletter. No. 60 (August). Rome. Available at: FAO Aquaculture Newsletter, August 2019 - No. 60

United Nations (2021) End Food Waste Day 2021. Available at: (Accessed: August 18, 2022)

FAIRR (2020) Feeding resistance.  Antimicrobial stewardship in the animal health industry.

Liu A, Van Pham Thi Ha To, Jose Maria Hernandez, Ester Santigosa, André Dumas  (2022a)  Vitamin nutrition in salmonid aquaculture: from avoiding deficiencies to enhancing functionalities.  In press. Aquaculture.

Liu A, Van Pham Thi Ha Toa, Jose Maria Hernandez, Ester Santigosa, André Dumas  (2022b)     Vitamin nutrition in warm water finfish aquaculture: from avoiding deficiencies to enhancing functionalities.  Submitted.

Santigosa E., Carr I. and Glencross B (2022).  Optimum Omega Nutrition for shrimp. White paper.

Santigosa E., Carr I. and Glencross B (2021).  Optimum Omega Nutrition for salmon. White paper.


Talebi Bezmin Abadi, A., Rizvanov, A.A., Haertlé, T. et al. World Health Organization Report: Current Crisis of Antibiotic Resistance. BioNanoSci. 9, 778–788 (2019).

Published on

22 August 2022


  • Sustainability
  • Reducing Waste
  • Food Loss & Waste
  • Shrimp
  • Aquaculture

About the Authors

Fabio Cervellione - Director of Nutrition & Health Solution Aqua Global at G.O. Johnsen AS

Fabio is a Director of Nutrition & Health Solution Aqua Global at G.O. Johnsen AS, which markets dsm-firmenich Nutritional Products.

He holds a veterinary degree obtained at the University of Milan, MSc in Aquatic Veterinary Studies at Stirling University, and a PhD in veterinary medicine at Ghent University.

Fabio has more than 15 years of experience in the aquaculture industry, through different local and global roles in technical service, sales, R&D, and marketing.

Louise Buttle - Key Accounts Aqua Global, Animal Nutrition & Health at dsm-firmenich

Louise holds a PhD obtained at the University of Hull, UK. She has over two decades of industry experience in aquaculture, much of this time with EWOS and Cargill in the salmon farming countries; Scotland, Chile, and Norway. Louise held various positions in R&D, product development, innovation, and sustainability. She joined dsm-firmenich in May 2019 and is committed to delivering solutions supporting the further development of sustainable aquaculture.


You are being redirected.

We detected that you are visitng this page from United States. Therefore we are redirecting you to the localized version.