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Exit Sardines, Enter Algae

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 5.19.03 PMYou’ve heard about the canary in the coal mine, but what about the sardine in the sea? This week we learned that the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to shutter the West Coast sardine fishery for at least one year, beginning July 1.

While sardines may not be the favorite tasting food of many humans, they are the meal of choice for highly popular (and environmentally crucial) larger fish such as Chinook salmon and albacore tuna.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports “Sardine numbers — which can only be measured using their collective weight — have dropped from 1,037,000 metric tons in 2007 to 96,688 metric tons, a 91 percent decline.

What does this have to do with algae? It’s all about Omega 3’s. Sardines are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which makes them popular as a health food for humans and a tasty treat for fish higher up the food chain.

The collapse of the fishery could have more grave consequences for the health of tuna and Chinook salmon, among others (which are also more popular sources for Omega 3s).

Algae are prolific producers of Omega 3’s, and can be grown sustainably in a variety of climates, offering aquaculture and nutraceutical/health markets a stable source of this important nutrient.

This issue shows us that we simply can’t assume the supply of important nutrients that we’ve traditionally sourced from the sea and land will be available in the same amounts in the years to come.

Algae companies, including ABO members Cellana, BioProcess Algae, DSM and Earthrise are all harvesting the power of algae to produce important and lasting sources of fish, animal and human proteins.

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