Aquatic food systems in a circular economy

Dominant models of production and consumption are fueling rapid biodiversity loss and environmental destabilization, from climate change to nutrient pollution of coastal waters, across the world. Our team embraces a circular economy approach in our work, as a way to reduce such harms, shift production to a sustainability path, and flip problems into opportunities for socio-environmental benefits and innovation. We conduct research and pursue innovations on several opportunities to upcycle wastes into beneficial inputs.

Here’s how:

1. Our research (pdf) on microalgae-based, fish-free aquafeeds utilizes biomass left over after the extraction of oils for human supplements and other products. This biomass is a highly digestible, protein-rich, ingredient that could replace less sustainable ingredients such as fishmeal and soy meal.  (Would you like to know more?)


2.  Our initial studies on upcycling brewery waste water to fertilize microalgae production, which would save the brewery from paying for waste water treatment and help microalgae producers to reduce dependence on inorganic fertilizers. This approach upcycles nitrogen and phosphorus compounds in the brewery waste water into fertilizer nutrients for the microalgae. (Would you like to know more?)


3. Our new location at the UCSC farm  allows us to study new types of integrated aquaculture-agriculture. We will examine ways that nutrient-rich water from recirculating fish tanks can be used on soil-grown crops in order to “close the loop” to improve nutrient use, reduce waste,  and conserve energy.(Would you like to know more?)