To meet the demands of a growing population, is necessary to produce sustainably enough nutritious food. Aquaculture is a growing and efficient food production system, which has apparently reduced the pressure on ocean fisheries in line with the Blue Growth strategy.

However, in the production of carnivore fish, the scenario is rather different, since these require a diet high in animal protein and oil. To meet these nutritional requirements, two ingredients commonly used are fishmeal and fish oil, which are rich in long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), essential for fish health.

Worldwide, aquaculture industries rely on wild fisheries as a source of feed for farmed fish, contributing to the collapse of fisheries stocks. The increased awareness on the benefits of PUFA for human health has contributed to increase fish consumption putting more pressure on fish stocks.

In recent year, alternative feed from terrestrial origin (e.g. soybean) have been developed, however these have low amounts of omega-3, with consequences for fish and human health, and with significant environmental problems (e.g. deforestation). Further, instability of soybean market value have increased global feed prices. In natural environments, several fish species feed on insects.

Insects have high protein content and are rich in other beneficial nutrients such as amino acids, lipids, vitamins and minerals, and are being consider as good candidates to serve as feed.

The limitation for aquaculture is mainly the low amount of omega-3 in terrestrial insects. SUShI will address this challenge using two approaches. Evidence shows that costal and marine insects, due to their feeding habits, present a nutritional composition richer in omega-3, being potentially good candidates to feed marine fish.

SUShI will investigate this by testing several endemic costal insect species regarding their nutritional composition as well as dietary needs and develop adequate diets and rearing methodologies which can be readily used in aquafeeds. It is also well established that by manipulating insect diets is possible to change their nutritional profile. SUShI will investigate if and how this can be done to produce adequate nutritional profiles for aquaculture fish using black soldier fly larvae.

This will also contribute to improve the management of organic by products from local industries using a Circular Economy approach, since this insect larvae can convert large volumes of organic byproducts into valuable biomass. SUShI is expected to contribute to local aquaculture and fish processing industries, through smart specialization that will foster highly qualified jobs.