n-3 Oil sources for use in aquaculture--alternatives to the unsustainable harvest of wild fish

Nutr Res Rev. 2008 Dec;21(2):85-96. doi: 10.1017/S0954422408102414.


The present review examines renewable sources of oils with n-3 long-chain (> or = C20) PUFA (n-3 LC-PUFA) as alternatives to oil from wild-caught fish in aquafeeds. Due to the increased demand for and price of wild-caught marine sources of n-3 LC-PUFA-rich oil, their effective and sustainable replacement in aquafeeds is an industry priority, especially because dietary n-3 LC-PUFA from eating fish are known to have health benefits in human beings. The benefits and challenges involved in changing dietary oil in aquaculture are highlighted and four major potential sources of n-3 LC-PUFA for aquafeeds, other than fish oil, are compared. These sources of oil, which contain n-3 LC-PUFA, specifically EPA (20:5n-3) and DHA (22:6n-3) or precursors to these key essential fatty acids, are: (1) other marine sources of oil; (2) vegetable oils that contain biosynthetic precursors, such as stearidonic acid, which may be used by fish to produce n-3 LC-PUFA; (3) single-cell oil sources of n-3 LC-PUFA; (4) vegetable oils derived from oil-seed crops that have undergone genetic modification to contain n-3 LC-PUFA. The review focuses on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), because it is the main intensively cultured finfish species and it both uses and stores large amounts of oil, in particular n-3 LC-PUFA, in the flesh.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Aquaculture / methods*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / supply & distribution*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / supply & distribution
  • Fish Oils / supply & distribution*
  • Food, Genetically Modified
  • Humans
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Salmon*
  • Seafood


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fish Oils
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Oils