Next step in new tech for eco-friendly omega-3 source harvesting

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Picture courtesy of Calanus As
Picture courtesy of Calanus As

Related tags omega-3 Harvest Fishing eco-friendly

Calanus As says it is one step closer to a new technology for more efficient, sustainable and eco-friendly oceanic harvesting of the omega-3 source Calanus finmarchicus.

In an R&D project named OASIS2, Calanus As and a consortium of industrial and scientific partners are developing a new generation of zooplankton trawls with on-board devices which allow them to increase efficacy and reduce bycatch in the 'challenging' area of oceanic harvesting.

The new tech aerates the water column in front of the trawl, elevating biomass from 40-50 meters up to the surface, where it is scooped up by a shallow and wide trawl.

In September 2019, scale model trials of system components were conducted in the flume tank in Denmark to test and evaluate design prototypes, measure hydrodynamics forces and recommend future modifications. Data and results are currently being analysed.
This industrial R&D project is partially funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the MAROFF-2 program, and the complete, integrated system will be sold by NOFI AS.

Increasing demand

Recent action by the Norwegian government​ to expand commercial harvesting of Calanus finmarchicus​ are primarily behind Calanus’ expansion plans, who foresee an increasing demand for the company's offerings.

Calanus’ signature product stems from oil extracted from the copepods species that has proved suitable for use in dietary supplement products, functional food ingredients and marine flavours.

The oil has shown a potent anti-inflammatory action as well as a role in improving insulin sensitivity. Researchers recently began a large clinical trial in children diagnosed with cognitive stress.

Precautionary quota set

In a move by the government in April a precautionary quota was set at 254 000 tons per year - significantly lower than the potential sustainable yield according to Calanus.

“We are pleased that the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries has decided to open for commercial harvesting of Calanus finmarchicus​,” said Calanus CEO Gunnar Rørstad.

“The market potential for our unique health and nutrition products has been confirmed, both through strong customer growth in Norway and considerable international interest. To be able to serve existing and future customers, it is absolutely necessary to increase our production capacity.”

Calanus Oil was granted Novel Food approval in the EU in December 2017, having already been launched by several companies in Europe.

“Calanus Oil is approved for sale in the EU, USA and Canada,”​ said Olsen. “Applications are underway in other important markets. We expect two new approvals this year and at least one new in 2020.”

With this species becoming a new sustainable omega-3 fatty acids source for humans, Olsen said its availability is timely with prevalence of obesity skyrocketing worldwide.

“Special products addressing health concerns associated with obesity should be the main focus of the nutraceutical industry,”​ he said.

“It is challenging to communicate innovative health supplements, due to strict health claim regulations, but over the next few years, we aim to have sufficient clinical evidence to apply for an approved health claim within the metabolic health area.

“Meanwhile, it is possible to use formulations to allow product specific health claims to target the most applicable consumers.”

"We have a continuous focus on the environment throughout our operations, and have implemented policies and routines that ensures low waste and carbon emissions during harvesting and manufacturing, along with eco-friendly harvesting technology with very low bycatch rates,”​ says head of technology and sustainability Ole Petter Pedersen, PhD.

“Development of this new and disruptive harvesting technology means higher harvesting yields and even lower bycatch rates, as well as less CO2 emission per kg harvested zooplankton.”

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