MASGC Project Impacts

U.S. fish feed production becomes more economically competitive and environmentally sustainable due to Sea Grant-supported activities


Taurine is a nutrient required in the diet of many fish species. Although taurine has traditionally been supplied to the fish via fishmeal, scrutiny over the sustainability of fishmeal as a major source of protein has pushed researchers and industry toward using alternative protein sources, such as plants. However, plants contain no taurine, and feeds using high levels of plant protein must be supplemented with taurine to avoid a deficiency detrimental to the growth and health of the animal. Because taurine is not approved for use in fish feeds in the United States, feed manufacturers are forced to use higher levels of fishmeal, which results in higher prices and is widely recognized as unsustainable. Additionally, U.S. feed manufacturers  cannot compete on the international feed market, since taurine is approved everywhere else in the world.


MASGC-supported researchers examined information on the efficacy and safety of crystalline taurine used in fish feeds and conducted research to fill knowledge gaps. They petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to amend the current taurine definition to include fish.


Crystalline taurine was both efficacious and safe to use in fish feeds. The FDA and AAFCO approved the use of taurine on Jan. 18, 2017. Feed manufacturers can now include crystalline taurine in their formulation, further reduce use of fishmeal and other animal proteins to reduce cost, and improve sustainability of their feeds. They can better compete with other feed manufacturers around the world. 


Due to MASGC supported activities, U.S. fish feed manufacturers are able to produce fish feeds that are more sustainable, lower in production costs and more competitive on the international market. (2016)